Everyone was talking about La Cabrera even before it opened. Rumors of Latin America’s 17th best restaurant (according to renowned food guide San Pellegrino at least) opening here seemed too good to believe. However, the rumors were in fact true, and in our fast-rising capital, soon home to a Nobu and Dean and DeLuca, it wasn’t so surprising after all.
La Cabrera has a formidable reputation in Argentina, with three branches in Buenos Aires, and a consistent spot on the best restaurants list. Argentina is known for it’s beef, and La Cabrera showcases that—it is a parilla (meaning either steakhouse or grill), a very common sight in the beef-loving country. With all its accolades however, one wonders if a branch so far away will have the same quality, with ingredients considerably less fresh here.
Do not expect the melt-in-your-mouth fattiness of Wagyu—the steaks here are still tender but are robust, muscular things.
When it comes to meats, La Cabrera is a stunner. Do not expect the melt-in-your-mouth fattiness of Wagyu which has become so commonplace—the steaks here are still tender but are robust, muscular things. The grill often used in South American cooking lends an incredibly smoky flavor to meat, taking on the woody intensity of whatever charcoal or mesquite has been used as a heating agent. The grill menu is succinct, with 3 types of steaks and 3 types of chicken.
For the steak, there is Ojo de Bife (Prime Rib Eye), Asado del Centro (Prime Short Ribs), and Bife de Chorizo (Prime Striploin). Each provides enough for 2-3 people, and arrives on tables with a charred exterior, that belies the rosy center. The Asado del Centro was a personal favorite, with the smokiness lending itself well to the tendon and fat running throughout the cut. The chicken was also grilled well, juicy and brightened by a squeeze of lemon.
The unlimited sides do however, make your main a good deal.
Each main comes with an unlimited amount of cold and hot sides, which is kind of like getting a mixed bag of jelly beans. Some are awful, like a pasty green chopped cauliflower chunky purée, mushrooms that were extremely acidic, and a very random baby food-like applesauce. There were a few good ones, like roasted garlic, corn and bacon that was slightly sweet, and well-cooked brown rice. The unlimited sides do however, make your main a good deal, and La Cabrera the perfect place to take a date.
Elsewhere though, it misses the mark, and the menu can be very expensive.
Elsewhere though, it misses the mark, and the menu can be very expensive. The provoleta at PHP 890 was a disappointment, doused in dried herbs, and was something one could easily make at home. The desserts were disgustingly sweet. I could hardly finish two forkfuls of their Rogel de Dulce de Leche, which needs some salt, some citrus, or less of the dulce.
If you stick to the mains however, I guarantee you’ll be fine.
They are also often out of most items, sometimes almost half of the menu, and this problem, including the weird-tasting, less-than-fresh sides makes me think that there will definitely be a major difference in quality between this branch and those in Argentina. Hopefully much will be done about the rest of the menu, as it is still on a dry run, and working out the kinks. There is a lot more pressure for La Cabrera to succeed because of its pedigree. But if you decide to go now, stick to the grilled meats, grab a glass of Argentinian wine, and I guarantee you’ll be fine.