Thursday, 17 January 2013

Garufin, Holborn

Steak is big in London.  Places range from the deservedly feted Hawksmoor with its big, beefy British comfort food, to new places such as STK (apparently a female friendly steakhouse, presumably to combat any Man vs Food meat-challenge connotations) and Flat Iron (with just flatiron cuts on offer for a tenner).  Argentinian joints make up some of the cow-touting places, with a number of sleek but pricey Gauchos dotted around the city, and the recently opened Garufin in Holborn.

Garufin is run by three Argentinians and is the sibling restaurant to Garufa in Arsenal.  It’s tucked down in a basement on Theobald’s Road, with rustic exposed brick and black and white tiles (apologies for the photos – dim lighting and black plates do not make for great pictures).

Garufin’s menu was set out to build on steak houses such as Garufa, offering a bigger range of traditional and modern Argentinian food.  The menu therefore features meat from the grill, but also snacks and a number of smaller plates to share, split between ‘meats’ and ‘vegetables’.

At lunch two of us started with crisp cheese croquettes (£3.50) with a nicely strong provolone filling, and one of the three empanadas on offer, which had an interesting but well-balanced filling of sweet scallop and salty olive (£3.50 for one).

I then had the rump steak with white corn cream, which was a bigger maize grain with more of a bite than sweet corn in a lovely earthy sauce.  This also came with fried mushroom ravioli, which turned out to be little parcels of mushrooms inside empanada dough.  The steak could have been a little pinker, but overall the dish was a good mix and a bargain at £7.50.

The fillet steak was the most expensive thing on the menu (£20 for 200g), but the request for medium/well to escape any blood was taken to the other extreme, with too much blackened charring on the meat.  The vegetable dishes on the side were delicious though – a great tomato salad with smoky roasted pepper sauce (£3.85), and a nutty quinoa salad with pumpkin and mushroom (£4.25).

This place offers a more relaxed and affordable alternative to some of the fancier steak places in town, but surprisingly the stand-out dishes were those without meat, perhaps reflective of their goal to show a little more of Argentinian cuisine beyond steak.

Garufín on Urbanspoon

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