Argentine restaurant La Patagonia opened in January, self-described as London’s first ‘barrio restaurant’ – a nod to the little neighbourhood joints around Argentina where you can get delicious, homespun food for even more delicious prices.
When Noah Mirelman – one of the owners of La Patagonia – opened the restaurant, he wanted to recreate that in Camden Town, which is… let’s face it… an unlikely place to find a traditional parrilla and one of the best Argentine restaurants in London.
Hg2 recently visited La Patagonia for a hearty dose of churrasco (Argentine ribeye) and milanesas (breaded beef cutlet) and, of course, some seriously good Malbec. Afterwards, we chatted with Noah to find out what inspired him to open the restaurant and where he loves to eat, both in London and Argentina.
Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to open La Patagonia.
What inspired me to open La Patagonia was a mixture of ambitions. Firstly, I wanted to try to start my own company and see if I could succeed. Secondly, I have always felt a passion for the food and culture of Argentina. Having been brought up in the UK in the seventies, I was always very aware of the contrast between the food eaten at school or at my friend’s houses and that of my family . The ice cream, the sweets, the assados where the entire day was taken up by eating, where everywhere – despite whatever political turmoil was happening – food was always a priority and communal eating more than just a national trait. It was an obsession. In La Patagonia I wanted to recreate the passion, pleasure and style of eating that I had glimpsed as a child from the many trips back to the home of my parents in Buenos Aires.
Where in Argentina are you and your families from?
My parents are from Belgrano, Buenos Aires, but typically for Argentina, their parents had recently arrived from Turkey, Switzherland, Russia and Gibraltar.
Is the food you cook at La Patagonia from that same area or all over Argentina?
The food we cook at La Patagonia is the food typically found throughout Argentina, although perhaps with a regional Pampas twist due to the manager hailing from Santa Rosa in the Pampas.
What do you think makes La Patagonia different from other Argentine restaurants in London?
At La Patagonia, we have attempted to offer a more complete menu compared to the other Argentine restaurants in London . The fact that we do offer fresh pasta, milanesas and some sauces with the meats offered means we are recreating a more authentic selection of food offered in a typical restaurant in Buenos Aires.
Tell us a bit about Argentinean food. What sorts of food trends or restaurant styles are popular in Argentina now?
Right now, some fusion cooking is popular but generally the Argentines like to eat their own cuisine.
If you go back to Argentina for a visit, what places do you eat?
I like to eat in a Palermo restaurant called Rio Alba, which is very traditional if a little upmarket. For a more abundant but less expensive meal, La Farola de Nuñez or La Farola de Cabildo are both part of an economical but high quality chain of popular restaurants.
Having spent some time in Buenos Aires, what do you think of the food scene there?
The food scene in BA is very vibrant despite the crisis. Unlike London, the priority on a night out in Buenos Aires is not alcohol but quality food…
What are some of your favourite restaurants in London (aside from La Patagonia, of course!)?
My favourite restaurants in London include Mangal in Dalston for Turkish food, Sarchnar or Fatoush on Edgware Road for Middle Eastern food, Green Cottage on Finchley Road for Chinese.
We noticed you recently held a tango night. Can we expect more special events in the future and, if so, what?
So far, all our tango evenings have been very popular and have packed out the restaurant. We’re planning to hold an event once a month and will continue to employ Maria and Martin as our house dancers, Nicco the guitarist and Corrina, our own tango singer.
Do you have a favourite Argentine dish? Share with us in the comments below!