It doesn’t take two for a fine Argentine meal
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  December 3, 2008
2.0 2.0 Stars

Another Argentine food passion is parrillada ($29/for one; $39/for two), a very slow barbecue of various pieces of beef and sausages, sometimes extended to butternut-squash slices these days. The long cooking makes the meat tender and helps it develop considerable flavor, especially in the short ribs, which are the quintessential ingredient. Tango's version has them, though they're a tougher and faster-cooked American-beef variety. So your highlight might be the pork sausage, an excellent match for the low-spice Argentine chorizo, or sweetbreads, which are always tender and delicious. The beef kidneys are chewier. And the morcilla (blood sausage) at Tango have a bit of allspice, like the Portuguese-American kind, instead of sage like the Argentine blood sausage. Tango sends the whole shebang to the table on a portable charcoal grill; it set off the fire alarm as we were leaving. They round out the grill with a nice pork chop and boneless chicken breast. Sauce isn't important in Argentine barbecue, but the default chimichurri of olive oil, parsley, and hot pepper is on every table.

The accompanying vegetable is potato rounds cut about three times as thick as a potato chip and deep-fried to fabulousness. (Don't miss these with any other entrûe, with which you get two side dishes.) A special on rack of lamb ($23.95) was three double chops with a raspberry glaze, plus side dishes of Creole rice and cheese-stuffed zucchini. The lamb was really excellent, as it so often is in steak houses. My other favorite side dishes were winter squash mashed with potatoes, and mixed sautûed vegetables, ordered with a Milanesa a la Napolitana ($19.95), which I'd describe as midway between Wiener schnitzel and chicken-fried steak.

The wine list at Tango is a real glory: page after page of malbecs at all levels, from easygoing fruit bombs to substantial riservas at 14 percent alcohol. We chose a 2006 La Posta Malbec "Angel Paulucci Vineyard" ($42), a mid-range malbec with the intense fruit of the light ones, but some oak to give it vanilla undertones and weight. If by any chance you want white wine, there are a couple of unusual ones from the Argentine torrontûs grape. Coffee ($2.50) and decaf ($2.50) were weak but clean; a decaf cappuccino ($4.50) was burnt.

Flan with dulce de leche ($6.75) was creamy and delicious. The same flavor of caramelized milk was also in a mil hojas cake ($8.95), where the "thousand" pastry layers had become hard and difficult to cut with a spoon or fork, but the filling of dulce de leche was in every bite. Budin de pan ($6.50) is, in the Argentine manner, really a flan with very fine bread crumbs bulking it up. A chocolate torta ($8.25) was creamy and rich; I liked it, but it wasn't the intense chocolate we dote on in Boston.

Service was, despite a full house on a weekend night, excellent. The room has bare brick decorated with modern art, rather better than what you see in Buenos Aires: a little bit of gaucho stuff, a cowhide, some old plates, a bare wood floor, and a blue stucco ceiling with some sound-absorbing panels that don't do much. It gets loud, but it's a lot of fun.

Robert Nadeau can be reached at RobtNadeau@aol.com.

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