Birthdays come but once a year and my family usually decide to celebrate at home. The downside to this is my mother is usually left cleaning up and doesn't get to enjoy herself. In my view, this is rather unfair when it in celebration of this particular birthday it wouldn't have happened without her!
So on this weekend AJ and I were over in Melbourne to celebrate my brothers' birthday and San Telmo in the Melbourne CBD was the choice. It is tucked away in a shy little alley, but tastefully decorated throughout. There are smart looking leather booths, animal skins on the walls, a hanging herb garden from the roof, coloured glass bottles - an eclectic but interesting collection of decor to make your meal enjoyable.
The San Telmo menu is a selection of tapas and more substatial fare, but we decided to make things easier for ourselves and just go for the $60/head set menu. It is structured in three course; smaller plates (8), main/side dishes and finally some sweets. There is an impressive wine/cocktail/spirits list and some Argentinian beers also.
So to start; we provided with the following delicious smaller tapas style plates (there were eight in total so I'll describe my favourites)
Empanada - a spicy mix of beef, egg and olive in a golden pastry casing. The pastry was crisp yet light with the filling perfectly seasoned.
Chapa - little diamonds of flat bread served with pickled zucchini. The dish was a great contrast to some of the more 'rich' plates and helped cleanse the palate.
Humita - generous rectangles of crumbed corn and polenta that is shallow fried until golden and served with a chipotle sauce that put hairs on the chest! These little portions were amazing.
On top of these dishes there was; Chorizo, Tira de Asado (beef short rib), a palmheart/pear/jamon/buffalo mozzarella salad and provoleta. These were just as tasty as the others but the real heroes were those I mentioned above.
Next came the 'main' which was a flank steak cooked on the Argentinian-style grill served with crispy roast potatoes, burnt carrots served with goats curd and a salad of lettuce.
The meat was packed with flavour, caramelised by the heat of the charcoal grill, the potatoes crunchy and drizzled with lemon juice, the carrots sweet and crisp.
Finally, with not much room left in our stomachs; a dessert of Merangue (meringue, banana cream, kiwi and candied pecans) and a shortbread biscuit filled with Dulche de leche finished the meal with a sweet note.
San Telmo really impressed; the waitstaff were attentive and knowledgable, the decor was tasteful and most importantly the meal was outstanding. Each dish (perhaps with the exception of the short ribs that were a little tough) was a pleasure to enjoy. The restaurants size makes it great for a big group but the low lighting also would make it a great destination for those dining in smaller numbers.