Buen Ayre

Argentinian, Steak·
££££
·

SquareMeal Review of Buen Ayre

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.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cuisines
Argentinian, Steak
Alfresco And Views
Outside seating
Perfect for
Group dining [8+]
Food Hygiene Rating

Location

50 Broadway Market, Hackney, London, E8 4QJ

020 7275 9900 020 7275 9900

Website

Opening Times

Mon-Sun 6-10.30pm Fri-Sun 12N-3pm (Sat-Sun -3.30pm)

Reviews

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8 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Owen F

10 August 2018  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5
Whoever didn't give the place 5 stars need to be removed from the gene pool
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.

Ingrid S

25 September 2013  
Food & Drink 4
Service 4
Atmosphere 3
Value 3
Bringing Out The Beast
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.

Rich M

16 November 2010  
Food & Drink 4
Service 3.5
Atmosphere 4
Value 4.5
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.

Laura C

28 July 2010  
Food & Drink 3
Service 0.5
Atmosphere 2
Value 0.5
My second time at this place. Such a disappointing and embarrassing experience. Our waitress was rude, abrupt and confrontational. She cut my friend off mid-question when she was asking about the wine, “the second one is best”, scathing boredom audible in her tone. When she descended upon the table to refill our wine glasses, without any warning and whilst we were mid-conversation, she practically bottled me as her arm and wine bottle swept across my face, splashing the wine on the table in process. (sorry, am I in your way?) The food while good, is heavily overpriced, and apparently that means you should accept snotty waitstaff for the privilege of dining there? Never Again.

Jay J

16 March 2010  
Food & Drink 4
Service 4
Atmosphere 5
Value 3.5
I am however surprised by the bad reviews. This place has been consistently fully booked every day if the year since it opened, so I am at a loss as to how could this happen considering the other reviews I read here. It is always buzzing when I am there, the meat is top of the range, the music is eclectic and rather extravagant, the steaks are double the size of everywhere else I have been to (all the cuts are in reality much larger than what it says on the menu), so honestly I have not experienced the problems other people seem to have endured there. In fact, it is probably good that these reviews have been posted, it means i will have more of a chance of getting a table, perhaps i will not have to book a week in advance any more!!

Varuni G

13 July 2009  
Food & Drink 3.5
Service 3.5
Atmosphere 3
Value 2.5
I was also surprised at the good ratings for this restaurant. A friend and i went here on a spur of the moment thing as Square Meal had voted it ‘Best in East’. The actual place is a small Argentinian cafe in a trendyish part of the area – old wooden tables/laminated short menu etc. We had a slightly pushy waitress who gave us the hard sell on wine and food and when we finally got a chance to view the menu, it was quite limited and looked like huge cuts of meat (10oz fillet and no other smaller pieces of the same meat). In some ways, its good because £22 a steak isnt cheap, but quality vs quantity was my main concern when pieces of meat were this big. When the meal arrived – it was huge but not seasoned. Chips were delicious but very oily. My meat was meant to be medium but was actually bleeding and so i had to send it back to get cooked further. The waiter again did the hard sell on puddings – everything seemed to be covered in Duche Leche toffee which made my cheesecake and the ‘traditional pancakes’ overly sweet and not really worth the money. I just didn't feel anything was worth returning for. All in all, bill came to £72 for two courses and 1 drink – as the other reviewers have said, Gaucho is pricey but at least its somewhere where there is a far better selection of meats and veggie options and you'd feel less hard done by when you leave! Buen Ayre is ok but i dont think it's anything special and certainly not worth revisiting.

Richard W

04 April 2009  
Food & Drink 2.5
Service 2
Atmosphere 3
Value 1.5
Food was not great. Service was rushed and apart from physically grilling the steak it was pretty much self service. Food poorly presented and generally not good value. I have heard comparisons with Gaucho Grill which is ridiculous considering the price paid here. Don't bother.

Sarah W

04 April 2009  
Food & Drink 2.5
Service 2.5
Atmosphere 2.5
Value 1.5
I am very surprised that this restaurant gets such good reviews. After visiting last night I found the service was sloppy and not welcoming. We were crammed into a corner with only one menu per 2 people, the waiter didn't bring us any bread until we had nearly finished our starters. He was very keen to push drinks which is always irritating. He didn't write down orders and seemed very eager to rush us off the table; even though we'd only just sat down and hadn't ordered. We had the table from 7pm – 9pm which is plenty of time to eat dinner, so didn't appreciate being told when we asked for a few more minutes that we should hurry up and order. The choice of starters was very limited, I had the aubergine which was coated in garlic, cold and unappetizing. My husband had Empanadas which he said were bland and uninteresting. The main course came and my BIFE DE LOMO was not impressive, I had to leave a large portion as it was very gristly. My husband ordered his medium but it came well done and there was also a surprising difference in the sizes of the steak. The garnish that came with the steak was nice but the side salads and chips we ordered were not particularly well presented and expensive. The most unpleasant aspect was the single toilet for use by both sexes which was not a wonderful experience for reasons best left unsaid but probably easily imaginable and also not ideal in a very busy restaurant. Mainly I am surprised that they charge the same prices as Gaucho Grill for everything on their menu but at Gaucho you are also paying for the location, setting, ambiance and decor as well as a much larger choice of food. I really don't see how they can justify the same prices when the food is not better and everything else is certainly worse. Our bill came to £250 for 4 people – £250 I wish we'd spent in Gaucho!
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