At last after 5yrs in Bucharest, Romania eating steaks that tasted like they were reared by Michelin or Dunlop, we at Bucharest Expat have finally found the Mecca of all steakhouses, purely by chance and hardly known… Let me start my amazing steak experience with a little background I gleaned after meeting and thanking our lovely host.
La Blanca Argentine is a restaurant set in a beautiful Villa near Piata Romana, just 100 metres north of the Howard Johnson on Calea Dorobantilor, next to the British Council. The Villa was owned by former Prime Minister, Ion. C.Bratianu, and has a stunning interior.
Liviu Moreanu started the original Argentine restaurant in Bucharest, Romania behind the Intercontinental in 2004 and the first six months were in his words, “Hell! We had Brazilian steaks and no menus until one day when an Argentinian lady walked in and helped to transform the restaurant”. The transformation resulted in a proper Argentinian restaurant, serving real Argentinian steaks and the homemade Argentinian desserts still served today.
In 2007 came the Argentine restaurant in Baneasa serving 600 steaks of prime Argentinian beef a week of and the origin of the secret behind Liviu’s success. The amount of steak being purchased finally gave him the buying power to source the steaks directly from the Santa Fe region of Argentina. This area is famous for fully grass reared beef and gave Liviu the quality platform to finally realize his dream of establishing “the best steakhouse in Romania with service and surroundings to match”.
And do you know what? He has got it!! I had given up on the lottery of eating steak in Bucharest as sometimes it was lovely and other times like chewing on my mothers boot. Bucharest Expat discovered the restaurant though a (well received) recommendation from a friend. Being skeptical and armed with my partner (she has a strong jaw) off we went to check out the rumor of a tender filet.
We were met at the door of the impressive Villa by our host, Lucia, who warmly welcomed us. She led us through the soft lights and Buddha Bar chill music to our candlelit table. It was an impressive start, but there have been many disappointments amidst splendid décor so the food now had something to live up to. The serving staff made recommendations from the large selections of starters and main courses, which in turn led us to a the recommendation of a fine Romanian red wine to compliment the food.
All very nice so far, my partner was impressed and warming her jaw accordingly. The starters arrived and were served with a smile; we took salads that were fresh and tasty and sourced from outside Bucharest (no need for imported vegetables here).
Starters cleared, it was now with some trepidation that I waited the main course. I have to say that what I saw on the tables round me looked good and I was starting to feel a little more optimistic when in walked our waitresses with a beautiful prime steak, cooking on a large hot stone! She asked how we would like our steaks, monster jaws wanted well done, I nervously asked for rare. My steak was cut and served for me and my partners was left for another minute or two and then served. Along came the side dishes, lovely mashed potato that was firm and creamy, not like porridge, and crisp broccoli. We washed this down with a very mellow Romanian Pinot Noir, which made me mellower by the glass.
The verdict on the steak? What can I say without getting carried away? It was a soft, very, very tasty steak, with a hint of barbeque from the hot stone cooking, a little garlic and pesto had been splashed on and I cannot wait to try the sauces next time.
The waitress smiled knowing we had been impressed and offered desserts. Now I must confess at this point that I do not really eat dessert, so politely refused and ordered the next recommendation in wine as my alternative. In hindsight (such a powerful analytical tool), boy did I make a mistake! I can give two valuable pieces of advice here. First, when dining at La Blanca, leave room for dessert. Second, don’t try and eat your partners Milojas, from her plate – I thought she was going to stab me. Love and share only goes so far… It appears that the Argentinian Milojas is the perfect ending to a lovely dining experience.
I was so impressed that I decided to ask for Liviu to thank him. I was intrigued to find out how he managed to get this steak cooked to this level of perfection.
He explained the two key ingredients behind the successful recipe:
1. Argentinan steak has become famous for quality world wide because of Argentina’s rainfall and largely temperate climate which result in high quality pastures. The Pampas is the most important and best-known cattle-producing region, as it has vast and open pastures. This is exactly where Liviu sources his beef. He proudly showed me the import stamps from the region in Argentina. A slight plus here is that grass-fed beef is believed to be healthier than grain-fed beef, and so does not contribute so much to raising cholesterol in humans. So not only does it taste great, it’s healthier steak as well….
2. Amra, the chef, is Mongilian and the most dedicated chef I have met. Liviu invited me to enter his custom made kitchen and meet Amra, whose smile and friendliness underly his passion for top quality food. Every meal is inspected by Amra to ensure that he can keep control of every meal. His passion for good food is addictive and one of the many reasons for la Blancas success. If you get the chance to meet this lively Mongolian chef, please do so as he is great – check the photo!!
The bill at the end? Well, all I will say is that 58 RON for tenderloin steak of this quality and my partner quiet with pleasure, not pain, represents money well invested.
For a romantic meal for two, a business lunch or dinner or going all the way to a Christmas party, I would recommend La Blanca. They are helpful and friendly, and I felt very included for an evening. If you want further details, their contact details and website addresses are below:
Address: Calea Dorobanti, No.18
Reservations: 021 619 0735