Whenever I hear of a restaurant in a hip boutique hotel in an even hipper neighborhood, I expect something of a let down. I expect overpriced drinks and food that is big on hype but poorly executed. HernánGipponi in Buenos Aires’s Fierro Hotel, which opened in October of 2010, is a rare exception. It’s the only boutique hotel restaurant I’ve found in South America that is comparable is the Tcherassi hotel’s Vera restaurant in Cartagena, Colombia. The restaurant’s namesake, chef HernánGipponi, is one of the rare talents in Buenos Aires that can look beyond a superb cut of beef. Formerly of the Bilbao’s Guggenheim and Quique Dacosta in Denia, Valencia, Gipponi’s menu tends to be adventurous and his kitchen’s execution is spot on.
The chef is also talented in the ways of molecular gastronomy, though he doesn’t go overboard like I see almost every other chef in Latin America does after their first exposure to an emulsifier or liquid nitrogen. Rather, Gipponi subtly adds graceful m.g. touches to his courses, which read more like combinations of ingredients than traditional plates. A recent walk through their tasting menu (see below) started with Avocado sorbet and grilled mango, moved on to plates like Prawns with turnips and jasmine tea and Rabbit Confit, and finished with several genius desserts. I visited Buenos Aires twice last year and beyond Peruvian restaurants, I really haven’t been overly impressed with much beyond beef. Until HernánGipponi that is.
The Wine List: The wine selection at HernánGipponi deserves a special mention. Andres Rosberg, president of the Argentine Sommelier Association, is in charge and he’s not choosing what most would expect. The cellar in the Fierro’s basement moves back and forth from Argentina’s traditionally top producers to lesser-known cult wines from places like Salta and Neuquén. The list is perpetually evolving. Expect it to be one of the top wine lists in Buenos Aires within a few years.
Menú degustación / A Recent Tasting Menu
- Sorbet de palta, mango grillado, vinagreta de cebolla colorada (Avocado sorbet, grilled mango, red onion vinaigrette)
- Langostinos, nabo, te de jazmín (Prawns, turnip, jasmin tea)
- Conejo confit, hojas, brotes, flores, aceitunas secas, polvo de anchoas (Rabbit confit, greens, sprouts, edible flowers, dried olives, anchovy powder)
- Mero, espárragos, tomate, almendras, limón piel, ajo blanco (Grouper, asparagus, tomato, almonds, lemon zest, garlic)
- Arroz Bomba, txipirones, puerro (Rice, baby squid, leeks)
- Lomo de cordero, papines andinos, broccoli, cebollitas tintas (Rack of lamb, baby Andean potatoes, broccoli, pearl onions in red wine)
- Gel de vainilla, frutas, flores, especias, sablee Breton (Vanilla gel, fruits, edible flowers, spices, Breton sablée.
- Crema de Tic Tac, bizcocho de nuez de pecan, frutillas, gelatina de café, pistachos (Tic Tac cream, pecan nut sponge cake, strawberries, coffee jelly, pistachios)
Inside the Hotel Fierro
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.