Cabana las Lilas

I bet you thought dinosaurs were extinct? You thought wrong. Dinosaurs are alive and well, ok maybe not so well but they are alive in Argentina and they are a national delight. Order a ‘steak’ and you will be presented with a T-bone that looks like it came from a T-Rex.

We heard that Argentina is famous for its beef and dutifully headed to Cabana Las Lilas which had been recommended to us by many people. It was our first day in Buenos Aires so we were eager to try out the local cuisine.

The restaurant

After a stroll down up and down the river at Puerto Madero, we arrived at the very early time of 8.30pm, hence the rather empty restaurant. Yes it takes a little while for us 7pm dinner Aussies to adjust to the late eating. Ok it takes my stomach a little while to adjust to the late dinners. The restaurant didn’t stay empty for long. An hour later it was packed and buzzing.

Bread selection

Bread lovers like me will be in heaven from the second they step through the door. A bread bar the size of my kitchen awaits you and it’s all-you-can-eat bread from start to finish.

Tasting plate

Not only is it all you can eat bread but you are also treated to other delights. This enormous platter of food is complimentary (actually it’s included in the service charge and absorbed in the prices but it seems free). The yellow thing in the middle, which we think was some sort of egg thing was delicious. Everything else was tasty but it was a definite winner.

Bag tie

I wasn’t too sure about this. As soon as you hang your bag on your chair, they come around and attach it with a zip tie. Apparently it’s to secure them so no one can walk past and grab it. Mum thought it was to stop us ‘tourists’ pulling a runner.

The bread

Is this not the most creative bread presentation you’ve seen? I’d love to have one of these at home. Yes the crumbs make a big mess on the table but it made eating bread even more fun. All the bread is baked in house and oh so scrumptious. This focaccia-like loaf was so delicious. Just enough crunch on the outside and fluffy on the inside with a hint of olive oil and warmed perfectly.

Provoletta grillada - grilled provoletta

This is where I met and fell in love with something I should have taken one glance at and run the other way. Grilled provoletta is literally a big piece of cheese, pan fried and served drizzled with a little oil and spices. It calls for and O-M-G amazing. I so do not want a nutritional analysis of this and I can say it wasn’t the only serve of it that I ate in Buenos Aires. It turns out it’s quite a specialty and on many menus.

La senorita de pan - the bread girl (named by me)

The bread didn’t stop at the focaccia. The bread bar from the front comes to you! A few minutes after the focaccia arrived we were presented with an enormous selection by the bread girl. Of course we sampled one of each but the focaccia remained at the top of my list.

Our dinner

Langostinos con Papas Risoles - prawns with potato

I ordered the grilled prawns with potato. One thing I like about Argentinian food is you get exactly what you order. There’s never a fancy twist. My prawns came in their own sizzling dish and were juicy and perfectly cooked. It was just the right amount for a main meal after all that bread.

A piece of dinosaur

Dad ordered the dinosaur. I might have been telling a little fib (had you didn’t I?!). He ordered the steak by the name of the restaurant and this is what he got. Isn’t it the biggest piece of meat you’ve ever seen? Argentinians pride themselves on their beef and yes, it is good but it’s hard to find anything better than our Aussie beef. We really are spoiled in Australia.

Grilled sole

Mum was rather disappointed with her sole. She was so excited to order it as we can’t get it at home but it was flavourless and tasted like it had been frozen. The following night she asked a waiter about the sole on another menu and commented that the sole at Lilas tasted frozen. He very wisely commented ‘what do you expect at a steak house?!’ His theory wasn’t entirely correct because my prawns were delicious but they defrost a bit better than sole.

Souffle de patatas

When dad and I saw another table getting these we had to have them too. They’re just like puffy potato chips (crisps) but a little bit soft. They were absolutely delicious. Apparently my aunt knows how to make these so look out for the recipe in the next few months.

Dad and his dinosaur

Here’s tough dad about to tuck into his piece of dinosaur steak. At least they give you a good knife.

Helados - dulche de leche y vanilla

I managed to find a little bit more room for dessert. I had my first South American dulche de leche on day one in Argentina and was instantly hooked. I may have already bought a few jars of it to bring home. It’s so good and what’s even better it comes in a million different forms. My favourite way to have it is in ice cream (so far) so of course I had to order it. It did not disappoint.

Limoncello y grappa

The ‘freebies’ didn’t stop at the appetizers. With dessert came a little tray of limoncello and grappa. I didn’t touch the stuff – it’s strong enough to put hairs on your chest – but dad had a bit of limoncello (he’s already got hairs on his chest so I couldn’t actually test the theory).

Te verde

Dessert platter

Had I known we’d be given a dessert platter like our entree platter I wouldn’t have ordered ice-cream, ok maybe I would have but have you ever seen anything so generous? I had a tiny taste of each one and the chocolate brownie was a clear winner closely followed by the almond wafer.

At the grill

Another feature of Argentinian restaurants is open kitchens. You can see them preparing and cooking the meat ‘asado’ style which is a bit like an Aussie barbeque.

The bar

If you want a fun taste of Argentina a visit to Cabana las Lilas should be on your list. The prices are a little on the high side but you do get a lot ‘for free,’ the food is delicious and it’s a fun night out.

Cabana las Lilas is located at A.M. de Justo 516, Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, Argentina – Tel. (54-11) 4313-1336 |