Most of the time straying away from traditional Argentine food in Buenos Aires is not a good decision. While the Argentines have essentially perfected the art of preparing meat, getting good international cuisine in Buenos Aires can sometimes be frustrating for foreigners that grew up with a wide variety of foods. In recent years the trend of puerta cerrada (closed door) restaurants has swept through Buenos Aires garnering international media attention. As a resident of the city, many of them are exciting as they feature unique and innovative cuisines.
I recently had the opportunity to try NOLA Buenos Aires, a puerta cerrada started by Liza Puglia, a chef originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. The restaurant focuses on New Orleans and Creole foods, though some of the dishes have French and Mexican touches.
Like many puerta cerradarestaurants, NOLA is held in a private home, this one a beautifully restored home in Palermo Soho. After ringing the doorbell you are greeted by the sommelier, Francisco, with a glass of champagne to drink while you meet the other guests. NOLA’s four course wine paired menu changes monthly. I attended the final August dinner. After getting a brief introduction into that night’s menu from the chef, we were brought the first course, a hearty okra, shrimp, and
chorizo gumbo. The second course was a green bean, endive and hazelnut salad dressed with just the right amount of Dijon vinaigrette. The main course was a generously sized piece of tender roasted pork roast with a chile ancho sauce atop polenta, an homage to grits, a traditional food in Louisiana. The dessert was a wonderful individual bourbon pecan pie.
NOLA was easily one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in Buenos Aires. What I appreciated most about the food was that it was creative, but not overly complicated or pretentious. The inviting and warm jazz filled ambiance and friendly staff encouraged conversation between diners, making it feel like a nice meal with friends, a comforting feeling when you’re thousands of miles from home.
David Carlisle, originally from Portland, Oregon, has lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina since 2007, and along with his Argentine business partner operates Parrilla Tour Buenos Aires, a food tour that focuses on bringing visitors to authentic parrillas in the city to taste and learn about the culture and cuisine of Argentina. To find out more go to www.parrillatour.com.