Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Mi Casa es Tu Casa

Chivito uruguayo. “Tu Casa,” Chacabuco 571 (con México), San Telmo

I ate a “Tu Casa” a number of times before I was brave enough to order the house specialty: chivito uruguayo. As I was soon to learn, there was no goat in the chivito, much like there is no egg in an egg cream soda, no grasshopper in a grasshopper pie.

Tu Casa is located less than a block away from my present digs and, with the exception of the chivito, offers standard Argentine fare: Minutas (quick eats), Parrilla (grilled meats), sandwiches, and homemade pasta. The owner is a cordial older man. It is my impression that everyone that works in the restaurant are family members. Thus, the old lady in the kitchen is his wife, the guy at the register is almost certainly his son, and the two teenagers with tattoos on their necks could be his adorable grandkids.

The decor would rate about an 8 in Zagat. I would describe it as retro-functional. For typical Argentine food, it is decent, cheap, and abundant.

On one occasion I had gnocchi with estofado, which I think is pot roast. I am going to need a second doctorate before I can understand the various cuts and ways of preparing meat. Price: $10 pesos ($3.33 US).

The next time I ordered half portions of ravioli with pesto and milanesa de ternura – a breaded, fried veal cutlet. Full portions are presumably reserved for Sonya Thomas, Takeru Kobayashi, Luciano Pavarotti, and friends. I left the “Tu casa” staggering. Price: $12.50.

The other night I came home late and was too lazy to cook. So I stopped Tu Casa. The man whom I presume to be son suggested I try the chivito uruguayo. It had been some time since I’d had a nice piece of goat, so I went for it.

I was a few sips into my beer when the first plate arrived. “This is the cold stuff,” the son explained. Piled high on the oblong platter were beets, shredded carrots, diced tomatoes, marinated palm hearts, green olives, and potato salad. There were gobs of Mayonnaise covering everything.

As I dug into the potato salad, which was quite good, out came the much-anticipated chivito. On a bed of French fries, covered with cheese, marinated bell peppers, a fried egg and a double whammy of ham and bacon, lay concealed a thin steak. A few bites confirmed that it was in fact cow I was eating. Still, it was delicious, so I kept at it.

Defying the quickly growing pressure in my stomach and my arteries, I powered through the steak, leaving only a few fries and some potato salad.

The son looked somewhat disappointed when I told him that I could eat no more, but his face brightened when I told him how much I had enjoyed their famous chivito.
Price: $22.50 ($7.50 US for the chivito plus a 750 ml bottle of beer).


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