Sunday, 26 September 2010

A La Cruz

A couple of Thursday's back I spent an evening celebrating Argentinian beef and wines at A La Cruz. The restaurant is situated just behind Exmouth market and the event took place in their cosy wood panel lined private dining room. The night comprised of a 7 course menu pairing different varieties from Mendoza winery Bodega Septima with different cuts of steak.

Welcome drinks were served next to the impressive fire pit, unique to this venue. A La Cruz owner and head chef John P Rattagan also runs Broadway Market's Buen Ayre where I have also dined recently, blogpost to come. He spoke passionately on the evening about his love of Argentina's culture and flavours having lived there until 1990, his introductions to each course were all too brief for my liking, I wanted to hear more though John was keen for the focus to remain on the wines.

Our first drink was an intro to Septima's brand new sparkling wine giving us a taste of the quality of wines to come. Septima's reds grace the menus of most of London's Argentinian restaurants including both of John's ventures, Santa Maria Del Sur, Garufa and Gaucho.

We were seated and the first course was served, fillet carpaccio with capers and parmesan. This was my favourite dish of the night. The matched wine was Septimo Dia Chardonnay 2008, the sole white offering, it was full bodied and aromatic with strong citrus and vanilla flavours.

Next up was the seared fillet with a mustard and white wine sauce, this was matched to the Septima Noche 2009, a pinot noir. Visually a lighter hue which comes from a briefer colouring using the grape skins late on in the 8 month ageing process. There was a strong cherry flavour. Again the steak was excellent.

I'll be briefer from here on as the wine began to take effect and my notes suffered as a result. Also for fear of this post becoming an essay. Next up was a mini sirloin with salsa criolla and Septima malbec 2009, a darker, elegant smoky red.

Moving on to the Septima Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, a stronger, longer lasting finish, spicier and smokier than the previous examples. There were cubes of ribeye with chimichirri sauce to match the intensity of the wine.

The premium wines of the evening were the Septimo Dias. Grapes from a higher altitude offering more character and depth of flavour. The Malbec 2008 made the gold list in the 2010 Sommelier Awards and we were each given a bottle to take away with us. The steak match for this took the form of rump mini sandwiches with ciabatta and rocket.

The final beef dish was flank with a cherry tomato and rocket salad. This was completely overcooked which was a bit of a disappointment though I was full anyway, the wine kept flowing, this time the Septimo Dia Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 peppery with blackcurrant notes.

Last up was the flank of lamb cooked on the pit served with mint sauce, new potatoes and carrots. This was almost sickly sweet, lamb's not my favourite meat and after all the beef it seemed an odd end to the menu but the cooking method is spectacular and I'm glad to have had the chance to try it.

The last wine to sample was the Icon wine Septima Gran Reserva 2008 which is floral and sweet. All wines sampled (save the new sparkling variety) are available at the newly re-opened Wine Rack stores across the South East and London for less than £15, very reasonable, I'll definitely be seeking them out.

Should you wish to sample some of these pairings, A La Cruz and Septima are launching a special tasting menu on the first Monday of each month. Beginning November 1st for £36.50 you'll get 3 cuts and a glass of the Septima Malbec.

Thanks to John Rattagan and Relish PR for hosting the evening. I dined as a guest of A La Cruz and Septima

A La Cruz
42 Northampton Road

A la Cruz on Urbanspoon

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