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8b Lamb’s Conduit Passage
GARUFIN PERMANENTLY CLOSED IN SEPTEMBER 2018
Sibling to Highbury steakhouse Garufa, this ‘Argentine kitchen’ offers a broader menu of regional specialities – although the menu is still dominated by the parrilla grill and authentic meaty cuts with names like lomo, cuadril and vacio. The kitchen also delivers four kinds of empanadas (try the version with roasted ‘brined’ chicken, spring onions, raisins and cumin), plus lots of “genuinely interesting” small ‘platitos’ for sharing – from fried squid, chorizo and rabbit croquettes with smoked cauliflower purée to roast partridge with black pudding and potato stew. Sides, sauces and breads also do the business, while desserts are dominated by dulce de leche. A thoughtful wine list includes some surprises, as well as excellent samples by the glass. Sadly, recent reports of sloppy service, “careless” cooking and poor housekeeping suggest that Garufa may be struggling in an increasingly crowded Argentinian marketplace.
Best in Bloomsbury
Best South American restaurants in London
8b Lamb’s Conduit Passage
Chancery Lane Tube Station 365m
Holborn Tube Station 366m
The Cochrane Theatre 211m
Gray's Inn 344m
Mon-Fri 9am-3pm Mon-Sat 5-10.30pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
I had a late dinner here with a few workmates on a Tuesday night. It was very quiet - fair enough, late on a Tuesday night. The cellar room has a slightly weird feel to it. Awkward, and lacking in cosiness. Service was attentive and swift, though without any helpful advice. The croquettes and empanadas that we shared to start were very good.
I ordered rib-eye steak for main. This being an Argentinian steakhouse I had reasonably high hopes. The misshapen, grisly, small cut of meat I was served was certainly not ribeye, was not tasty, and had been cooked carelessly well beyond the medium rare that I had requested.
Wine list was ok, though they had sold out of the bottle I wanted.
Food + drink: 2
On entering, it felt a little empty and brightly lit. Then found the toilet door was hanging off its hinges and the glasses on the table were dirty. Despite my better instincts, soldiered on but unfortunately it didn't get any better. Many of the dishes we tried to order were not available, and the house and the next wine on the menu were also not available, making the cheapest red wine on the menu £32. Starters were genuinely interesting, scallop pasty, and lamb meatballs, and steaks were well cooked, but portions were very small. Service petered out so gave up on ordering anything else…
Short walk from Holborn station entering through a narrow door down the stairs lays a welcoming and intimately lit Argentinian restaurant. Greeted by the barman behind beautiful brick walls, we enter into the main dining room. Garufin is one of the most charming restaurants I’ve seen in London – black and white tiled floors, high ceilings and wooden tables. It felt like we were sitting in a stylish wine cellar which made sense looking at the extensive wine list.
Argentinian cuisine is well known for its quality cuts of steak. Garufin's list of regional small plates, “platitos”, seemed far more interesting in our eyes. The deciding factor probably came down to spotting monkfish. How could I choose steak over one of my favourite and rarely restaurant-featured fishes? Before getting all wrapped up in the fish, I gazed through the Argentinian wine menu where you can taste 25ml servings. I tried three as a mini wine tasting. I love this concept and as a baby in the wine world, evermore perfect for me to expose myself to some more grapes. I preferred Zuccardi Zeta, Malbec/Cab Sauv fromTempranillo 2009. A balanced and fruity glass of red with earthy hints of pepper and tobacco.
Humita & Cabra, fresh creamed sweet corn, sweet potato, goat cheese & basil oil was wonderful. The smooth texture was comforting and the bits of goat cheese paired superbly with the corn and sweet potato. Another delight was the Patagonia Empanada, scallops, spring onions & olives. Shaped like a rosebud this is the prettiest empanada I’ve seen. Well as pretty as an empanada can get that is. The crispy but light pastry worked well with the diced scallop filling and was not as heavy as a usual empanada.
Pulpo al “Aji”, octopus & king prawns “a la plancha” & “aji”, almond & bread sauce was another catch. The perfectly cooked seafood lay in a rich sauce with a lovely depthness. Nicely complimented by a side of Esparragos, char-grilled green asparagus with garlic and olive oil. The downfall however was the Rape & Yopara, grilled monkfish with mussel “yopara” & coriander as the fish was overcooked. Monkfish is a firm fish from the start so when cooked too long it becomes very tough, unfortunately. Wish I could have tried another platito instead from the tempting menu.
Highly recommend the beautiful cellar of Garufin showcasing a mix of regional Argentinian dishes. It was a pleasure trying the platitos as a change from the usual steak associated with Argentinian restaurants. Every dish looks and tastes as if the chef added a bit of personality and cared about each ingredient. Well minus the monkfish, but I can forgive and forget, as the rest of our evening was enjoyable. Good service, affordable and friendly atmosphere.
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