A piece of Argentina in the heart of SoHo
Originally uploaded by lools.
West Broadway, between West Houston and Canal, is SoHo's star-studded showcase of haute-couture and haute-cuisine. Restaurants in this block include Balthazar, Cassa La Femme, Felix and a host of other popular establishments.
Cafe Novecento is a charming Argentinian (or is it Argentine?) restaurant that brought back for me delightful memories of Argentina including Malbec, pasta and dulce de leche, the only three staples of my vegetarian diet while disocovering Buenos Aires and Bariloche a few years ago.
Novecento's atmosphere is cozy and bistro-ish but the dark wood furniture and the old-world lighting fixtures lend the restaurant an elegant ambience. The staff, all of whom are Argentine, are very friendly and quite knowledgeable on the wine list which has many gems from South America. The bartender recommended the Trepiche Malbce, the least expensive bottle of wine on the list from the Mendonza region in Argentina which turned out to be just lovely!
Harsha and Joy, my dinner companions, were raving about the filet mignon imported from Argentina (but of course) and cooked to medium-rare perfection in chimichurri sauce but I can't really back that up. I intensely focused on my vegetable ravioli and tried hard not to visualize innocent, chubby cattle happily grazing in the Pampas and blissfuly ignorant to their impending fate.
The highlight of the evening was dessert. An Argentine food experience is not complete without mention of dule de leche. It's amazing what can be done with just sugar and milk. Caramelizing is nothing but heating sugar till the molecules start breaking down but it is the complexity of flavours (butter, rum, fruit, flower) and textures (thick, chocolately, butterscotchy) that result from the caramelization that makes dulce de leche so unbelievably divine. Novecento's chefs whipped up a really good dulce de leche poured generously on a crisp white crepe and powdered sugar. Yummy!
If you're tempted enough to try some dulce de leche, look no further than La Paila, the top-ranked brand available in gourmet stores.
343 W BroadwayÂ
New YorkÂ 10013