Kate reviews: Palermo
401 Little Bourke St, City
Don’t get confused.
This isn’t an Italian joint, we’re talking Palermo as in the suburb of Buenos Aires.
Just like its sister restaurant, San Telmo, the owners have chosen one of Bs As’ more cosmopolitan barrios for their inspiration.
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If you’ve been to San Telmo, the menu at Palermo won’t feel entirely different, but the set up in the kitchen certainly has one big change – these guys are now able to cook “a la cruz”, or on the cross, meaning there could be whole splayed Gippsland lambs or Western Plains suckling pigs roasting upright over a massive fire pit.
Be sure to head over and have a good look at the set up.
I love the way the Argentinians eat, and it’s worth mirroring here.
At a family asado, the meat is cooking on the grill all day and night, and plates of different cuts and parts are just passed around at regular intervals – meaning you never quite get full, and you never run
out of delicious things to eat.
It’s quite similar here. Very much a share menu, with lots of little things to order and eat, and plenty of different cuts of meat to try.
When it comes to more traditional items, these guys definitely have the authenticity right.
Try the empanadas, the beef ones are spot on replicas of what you’ll get in Argentina, the traditional beef, olive and boiled egg; but my favourite here is the vego offering – with corn, onion, jalapeno and mozzarella.
It’s fresh, spicy and more-ish.
Be warned – the croquettes are filling if you’re planning to eat a fair bit.
We may not have needed those, but then when is suckling pig ever about necessity.
These are chunky, gooey parcels of goodness, the pork fabulously smoky from that fire grill – a good way to use leftovers, so you’ll get some jowl and other bits in there for good measure.
The chorizo is smoky, fatty (in a good way), and tasty; I tried to morcilla on a previous occasion, it’s a cracker. Make sure you make the most of the chimichurri and salsa for these two and any meat you order.
Easily my favourite smaller share dish was the “calamar”, actually cuttlefish, char-grilled with a parsley and garlic marinade, then arranged on the plate with a smoked, pickled mussel escabeche – so fennel, onion coriander, chilli, some sherry vineagar; and finished with salsa verde.
Bright, fresh, and lovely.
Plenty of options when it comes to protein – don’t be nervous about choosing an unusual or “cheaper” cut, these guys do them all well. We went with a tasty skirt steak or entrana; their version from Rangers Valley as good as plenty of pricier cuts you’ll find around town.
Couldn’t go past the Cuadril de Cordero, a chunk of pasture-fed Gippsland lamb rump, spiced with coriander & chipotle and cooked over the charcoal grill.
The meat’s not cheap, but it does go far, don’t be fooled into ordering too much. Picking at food over a couple of hours, you will very easily fill up.
These guys do great veg.
From the sides – I loved the broccolini paired with a salty anchovy vinaigrette, green chilli, parmesan and breadcrumbs; and we grabbed the heirloom tomato starter as a side too.
Wines are at the usual city prices, all over $10 a glass, all Argentinian which I love.
A great feel here, not unlike some of Buenos Aires’ parillas, lots of leather, booths, cowskin menus and plenty of smoke. It’s a great way to eat as a group, and when it comes to both people and plates – the more the merrier.