The sort of meal I live for!
Brighton Food Reviewer, Laura Stevens, March 2017
Located in the heart of Hove’s popular restaurant quarter is a shining new star called Latinoamérica. An enchanting restaurant with a high ceiling and simple classic décor of white paintwork, dark polished wood and the odd bare brick wall. The glass frontage and huge mirrors accentuate the sense of space, while a warm wooden floor, comfy furniture, and flickering candle light lend a cosy, intimate feel. A striking candelabra of on-trend, bare Edison lightbulbs and an abundance of shimmering glass complete the look.
The acoustics are ideal for a romantic meal, the hum of conversation providing privacy and atmosphere without being intrusive or forcing you to shout be heard.
The staff are friendly and helpful and if you are lucky enough to catch owner/manager Damian, he is a mine of information and can recommend dishes to suit your palate as well as the very best wines to partner with them, he can even tell you the elevation of the vineyard that produced the grapes.
Opulent wine & plump olives
While we decided what to order, we grazed on a bowl of Aceitunas Verdes Marinadas from the Para Picar or “While you wait” section of the menu. Plump, juicy green olives, marinated in herbs, heady with garlic and drenched in extra virgin olive oil. Even my olive-loathing husband had to concede that they were good. To drink we started with a glass of Pora Py’a Carmenere from Colchagua Valley, Chile. A gorgeous, smooth, opulent, slightly peppery red wine.
Recommendation for the starters
We couldn’t decide which starters to have so Damian suggested a few to share. We ordered the Chorizo Criollo, an Argentine grilled chorizo, two different kinds of empanada and the Provoleta al Oreganato, melted Provolone cheese with toasties. It all arrived steaming hot on charming little wooden boards decorated with sprigs of aromatic thyme and pretty purple amaranth leaves.
Not spicy like its more familiar Spanish cousin, Chorizo Criollo is punchy, salty, dense, meaty and satisfying. It was served with a salsa Criolla made from chopped peppers, onions, sherry vinegar and olive oil to add a light, refreshing contrast.
For our empanadas, we decided to try the chicken and the spinach. We could also have had beef or ham and cheese. We were served two delightful little deep-fried pasties, each beautifully hand-shaped and crimped and brimming with filling. The pastry was crisp and delicious and the fillings rich and sumptuous. One was stuffed with delicately-flavoured, moist, shredded chicken and the other with an almost sweet, creamy spinach filling. If you like empanadas, you should also pop next door to Latinoamérica’s neighbour, Café Malbec, an empanada house with an even greater choice of tasty, homemade, oven-baked treats.
The Provoleta al Oreganato was essentially “deconstructed” cheese on toast. So simple, yet soooo scrumptious! Two slices of thick, lightly-toasted, fresh, white bread served with a little frying pan, straight from the grill, filled with bubbling Provolone, a mellow, earthy, slightly smoky, slightly sweet Italian soft cheese, which has the texture of mozzarella when it’s melted. I absolutely loved the slightly farmyard flavour and the decadent smooth, oozing texture. There was also an element of fondue-esque fun to trying to get the stringy cheese onto the toast, yum!
We were really looking forward to trying some Argentine steak for our main course and Damian recommended the Ojo de Bife or Rib Eye. You can choose between two sizes depending on appetite or whether you want to share and next to each steak on the menu is a recommendation for how it should be cooked in order to best enjoy the individual character of each cut. We had our rib eye steak medium to medium rare, as per recommendation, and it was spot on. It was perfectly cooked and perfectly rested, and was absolutely mouth-watering. It was well-seasoned and beautifully caramelised on the outside while still pink in the middle.
It was so juicy it was like biting into a peach, and the buttery, beefy flavour was out of this world! Look out gourmet steakhouses of Sussex, there is a new player in town and he’s after your customers!
We got a selection of three dressings to go with our steak. The first was a traditional Chimichurri, a typical Argentine sauce used for grilled meat, made of finely chopped herbs, olive oil and white vinegar. It was delicious, fresh and intensely herby, a perfect accompaniment to the steak. We also got some more Salsa Criolla, which we had tried with our chorizo and some Provenzal, which delivered a serious hit of garlic and fresh parsley. They all went brilliantly well with the steak and we genuinely couldn’t decide which we liked best.
Fantastic chunky chips
On the side we got a bowl of absolutely fantastic, chunky, crispy, hand-cut, skin-on chips, some unusual Yuca del norte or deep-fried cassava chips, which were starchy and slightly sweet and flavoured with more of that lovely salsa provenzal and a fabulous selection of fresh, juicy, sautéed vegetables.
We tried a couple more gorgeous Malbecs with our main course. El Supremo from Mendoza, Argentina, which was the slightly lighter, fruitier of the two and Tapiz, also from Mendoza, which was silky, luxurious and intense. Both were excellent and comfortable equals to our amazing steak.
Perfect end to a perfect meal
For dessert we decided to share a Don Pedro, a scoop each of smooth, sweet, vanilla and dulce de leche ice cream with crunchy caramelised walnuts and a warming shot of whisky poured over the top. A simple but perfect end to a simply perfect meal.
Divine dessert wines
Finally, now entirely caught up in the decadence of the evening and feeling pleasantly merry, we couldn’t resist trying the two dessert wines on offer. First up was the superb Finca Domingo Torrentes Late Harvest from Salta, Argentina, which was the colour of ripe wheat and was light and fruity, pure nectar.
The second, and our personal favourite, was the Zuccardi Malamado Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina, which was a little like port with a hint of marmalade, rich, velvety and utterly divine.
Go visit several times!
This is the sort of meal I live for, with so many different dishes and wines to try, my taste buds were positively singing by the end of the meal and before we had even left we were discussing which of our foodie friends and family to bring first. Definitely the restaurant to take those you want to treat or impress, that first date perhaps or maybe your in-laws to be…
Go. Go several times, and try everything!