El Baqueano is a small place with about 6 tables, 8 seats at the counter and an open kitchen. They have been open 11 years. You must ring the bell to have them confirm your reservation through the grating before you gain entry. Windows to the street are on 2 walls as it sits on a corner and comfortable armchairs are at the tables set with elegant clothes and napkins. Instrumental music played in the background and the overall lighting was low, but each table had a spot light. An enclosed wall of wine separated the main dining room from a room with a larger table. Everyone is served the same tasting menu and no printed version is available. It was an odd meal, made odder in that the place was empty except for us and one other table. Pacing was really fast and portions too large for a tasting. With little information about the upcoming food we chose to try their wine pairings with the meal. They served many local items which the server had difficulty translating for us.
Bread was served by the slice with an anchovy butter. The moist bread was dense with a doughy, chewy center and good crisp crust but the butter too strong for me and the color was unappetizing. We ordered a Negroni cocktail which came with one large ice cube. It was well made but the timing with the wine pairings was off as they overlapped and we didn’t have much chance to sit and enjoy it.
The first snack was a cone of eggplant sorbet with housemade yogurt on the bottom. It was cool and the crisp cone was slightly sweet. Mostly mild flavors but good textures.
The first dish was roasted eggplant baba ganoush and escabeche juice. The eggplant was mild, soft and well cooked and sitting on the escabeche – tart sauce that was used for pickling. Some Argentinian cheese was grated on top. It was okay.
Three textures of quinoa were in the next dish that was considered a signature dish. Pumpkin, pepper and ham flavors were with the toasted quinoa. Some dots added a touch of creaminess and thin chips added more crunch. Also included were some marinated jellied pickles and something spicy. A weird mish mash of ingredients that worked all right. It was served with a Salta wine that was good.
Some dumplings filled with alligator from Formosa were good. The wrapper was coated with a honey glaze. They were tender and tasty with a mild flavor but a savory essence. They were served with a natural wine famous for its acidity.
A ring shaped dish was next made with layers of butternut squash, beans, a gel of peas and corn with a bit of orange. It was crisp around the top and most of the layers had only mild flavor. It suffered from having too much bean that was really bland. All the ingredients in the dish were from Milpa. It was served with an orange wine that had lightly fermented white grapes also from Milpa. This was a dud.
Next was their take on an alfajore or 2 cookies with dulce de leche inside. This is a really popular treat in Buenos Aires, but this one contained cold prawns with a side of hot consomme. It was coated with cocoa butter. The broth was filled with good flavor the alfajore was mild and dull.
A confit duck with fermented powder of yucca was a totally tender piece of duck. A crispy chip on top added the texture to the already flavorful duck.
Aquatic buffalo from the wetlands was accompanied by a wine from the northern part of Patagonia. It was plated with a spinach couscous with herbs. The meat was nicely rare but dry and parts were too heavily salted. It was coated with cheese and bread crumbs. The green lacy disk started out crisp but turned soft and was topped with lavender and basil flowers. It was okay.
A sorbet of kiwano was mixed with banana cream and stuffed in a warty cucumber-look- alike skin of a kiwano. Kiwano is a native fruit with flavors of cucumber, banana and lime. It was tasty and the sorbet and cream combined for a nice texture.
“Watchman” is normally made with cheese and jam and they used a goat cheese sorbet and a chilto fruit (sweet) from northern Chilton. The Chilto is a tree tomato and was full of seeds and I wasn’t sure how to eat it but the outer edge was very soft.
A rosella flower from the jungle was filled with white chocolate. The crunchy flower was thicker than it appeared but was nice with the good white chocolate.