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50 Broadway Market
Tango dancers stomp through the foliage on the elaborately painted window, a mighty mesh bull's head glares down and, at the centre of things, sits the sizzling parrillada grill. Chef/owner John
Patrick Rattagan was raised in Buenos Aires, and this rustic, pint-sized eatery is a love letter to his birthplace. There are empanadas to start, and chunky chips smothered with garlic and parsley,
but save room for the main event: juicy, charred slabs of pampas-reared beef – served straight up or as part of a mammoth mixed grill. It's uncompromising red-blooded stuff – vegetarians need not
apply. The system of two sittings (before and after 9pm) is a tad restrictive, and staff can sometimes seem uninterested, but with a keenly priced Malbec in your glass and an enthusiastic buzz all
around, you're bound to be won over by this carnivores' favourite.
50 Broadway Market
London Fields Station 429m
Cambridge Heath Station 620m
Ocean Music Centre 1km
Hackney Empire Theatre 1km
Mon-Sun 6-10.30pm Fri-Sun 12N-3pm (Sat-Sun -3.30pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 5
Ignore anything negative you read about this place, they're simply either idiots who should be thrown into the sea or nasty little competitors.
I've been coming here for a few years. Not once has it disappointed. I don't know many things, but I know steak. This place is 10/10 and sits alongside Beast, Goodman and Hawksmoor.
Food + drink: 4
Broadway Market is a welcome sight if you ever happen to be in London Fields, which can seem a bit of a wasteland if you’re not used to the area – in fact, Broadway Market positively brims with groovy life. The weather, however, was lousy on our visit – more Hackney than Buenes Aires, although that was where we were heading – well, Buen Ayre at least.
It seems ironic somehow that in these post horsemeat scandal times, there’s such a glut of eateries packed to the max with punters all wanting meat. Buen Ayre is no different. Listed in Time Out’s Hot 50, this Argentinian grill is a simple, yet buzzing homage to prime cuts. Being the out-and-proud carnivores we are and deprived of red meat for at least a week, we fell upon the food like wild beasts – a primeval platter known as a parrillada, piled high with all manner of sausage, black pudding, sweetbreads, short rib and flank steak. We had bayed for blood and we got it – and it tasted Good. With hindsight, we should’ve ordered more vegetables, although a person travels this far for the meat (vegetarians have a choice of pesto-stuffed mushrooms or halloumi cheese and vegetable brochette) – but all that soft, tender flesh made us feel high as a kite. In fact, on leaving Buen Ayre, we could’ve been that triumphant 2001: A Space Odyssey man-ape chucking a bone into the air. Heck, we might even make the journey again.
If the Gaucho Grill is the 18 stone bully of the Argentinian Steak House scene, kicking sand in everyone's face and making you think that they invented the art of grilling meat, then Buen Ayre is definitely the speccy nerd. Except that this speccy nerd really knows how to look after himself.
If ever a man were born with a steak knife in his mouth, then that man must be Buen Ayre's co-owner, John P. Rattigan. Born to expat Irish parents, a nation not slouching when it comes to fine cattle husbandry, on a cattle ranch outside Buenos Aires, he eventually moved to the UK to set up Buen Ayre. His title is not Chef, but Asador – the title given to those Argentines who shoulder the heavy responsibility for the BBQ – the high priest who officiates over the holiest holy of Argentine cuisine.
Buen Ayre is a steak restaurant. That much is clear. There is no point going here unless you too worship at the altar of meat. 45 covers only, it could sit quietly in the corner of one of Gaucho's barns. They run two sittings, 6.45pm and 9pm, and I'd advise the later one… trying to stagger through this quantity of meat in 2 hours is a challenge.
The centre point of the rustic Hackney restaurant is the authentic parilla that takes pride of place in the bijoux open-plan kitchen. It's a huge metal grill, custom built in Argentina, on which the slabs of beef are stacked before being lowered onto a base covered in glowing charcoal. The sight of the grill, a bovine version of the Spanish Inquisition, groans with meats and sausages and serves to highlight why you're not here for the salad. I would describe the rest of the restaurant, but dear reader, I didn't notice it. Wood? Maybe some pictures? Sod it, I was here for the meat…
Bread (standard white baguette and a couple of Jacobs crackers) was rescued utterly with a heavenly mix of blue cheese and butter to spread. God knows how good that would have been on nice bread. It came with a brace of homemade empanadas; crumbly buttery pastry cases like spicy Cornish pasties enclosing fresh, hot fillings, designed to take the edge off our hunger. I couldn't stop with the blue cheese mix, determined as I was not to ruin the steak to follow.
We went for the Parillada Deluxe. A metal tray heated over some of those charcoals, served to your table with a selection of steaks, sausages and cheese (yes, cheese, I'll come back to that). The tray arrived dwarfing the diminutive server, the pair of steaks stacked precariously over the grill. The deluxe comes with a 14oz sirloin and an 11oz rib-eye, both served the rare side of medium rare (to the possible detriment of the fattier rib-eye), sizzling slightly on the plate. If this wasn't enough, the grill also contains two large sausages, disappointingly dry this time but I've been assured that this is a rarity, and four nuggets of a homemade spicy, crumbling black pudding. And a disc of creamy provolone cheese with a topping of dried herbs, sizzling away in a corner of the plate, pulled away in artery threatening lumps. Nice as it was, it felt somewhat extraneous, like they were really trying to fill you with as much fat as you could take. Vital, tasty, life affirming fat for sure, but I felt towards the end of the marathon a little like a force-fed goose. The meat for the record was good. Very good. And certainly one to wave under the nose of anyone who has ever uttered the sentence, “I never bother with steak, it's all too samey for me”. I won't mention the char, or the marbling, or any of the other phrases that confirmed meatheads will bandy around, but will confirm that the flesh was deep red throughout and had the most beautiful, almost sweet, taste.
We didn't have time for desserts, feeling slightly rushed at the end of our time slot. It's unlikely we'd have had room for any, but the option would have been nice. A swift espresso then instead, before rolling off into the Hackney night. I'll be back, and will find it hard to go back to the Gaucho after this. Have a look, you won't be disappointed.
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