ARGENTO really has just one thing on its mind … and that’s steak.
Vegetarians will no doubt steer well clear of this one even though there is the odd dish for them.
For this is where meat lovers come to worship and that repeat custom has led to this Argentinian-owned restaurant in the heart of Huddersfield becoming so well established over the last four years.
That and its hot rocks.
Nothing, of course, to do with stolen jewels.
A hot rock is a small slab of volcanic rock heated in the oven to 400ºC so you can cook your own meat on it with your chips or new potatoes nestling on one side of this formidable platter and your salad or vegetables on the other.
A veritable DIY feast, but more of that later.
Help is always at hand here. Although the menu may not be extensive, it has been pulled together with true Argentinian pride.
It’s out to showcase the best of South American cuisine.
Traditional starters are empanadas – smallish Cornish pasty-style with a choice of three fillings, beef with olives and onions, chicken and onions or cheeses.
They come – as does the main course – with the restaurant’s piece de resistance, chimichurri sauce. This is an earthy offering of olive oil, vinegar and oregano. Now so popular they plan to sell it in bottles by the end of the year.
A tart taste that adds life to the lightly-spiced empandadas.
Other starters range from corn on the cob for vegetarians who must have walked into the wrong place in a moment of utter confusion, soup of the day and Argentine pork and beef sausage or black pudding with chargrilled pepper.
Or, for the adventurous, 15 fresh peeled tiger prawns on the hot rock with garlic mayo, fresh lemon and a small salad.
But enough of this build-up. Steak’s what this place is all about. The giant cow hide on the wall is a statement of intent.
Now there’s two ways to do this. Get the chefs to cook the meat or get yourself a hot rock.
Up popped the waiter with Mr Benn-style regularity and familiarity to convince us to get hot – so we did.
There are four main cuts of meat – rump, ribeye, sirloin and fillet. I went rump, Ruth went fillet. Would we tell the difference? You bet.
The meat has been cut up so you put it on the rock in slices. Sprinkle salt on your rock first so the meat doesn’t stick, pop the meat on and then quickly turn it over.
This seals in all the juices. And then keep cooking until it’s just how you like it from virtually raw to just about blackened.
Now Ruth has always liked her steak well done until we did this. She now sees there’s a different way with it slightly pink in the middle.
The rump was tender compared with your average supermarket cuts but the fillet was the tenderest steak we’d ever had.
It made you wonder if the unfortunate beast had spent its final days in a spa.
We both had homemade chips with their skins on. Ruth had sauteed vegetables – courgettes, carrots, peppers, green beans, corn and broccoli cooked in olive oil and garlic. Stunning.
In a moment of sheer craziness I’d opted for the salad. A mistake as it was a somewhat limp, lack lustre offering in comparison.
Oh, and for those disorientated vegetarians, handmade parcels of pasta filled with ricota and parmigiano cheese served with cream or tomato sauce.
Main courses vary from £14 to £16 or you can go massively overboard and have taster meals for two that are just a tad under £50.
Best value seems to be a three course meal for £16 – but that’s only for early birds between 5pm and 7pm.
We are more your late birds. No time for a dessert, but toffee plays a major role here including pancakes with Argentinian toffee and toffee ice-cream.
Although the service was good, the optional 10% service charge was automatically added to the bill.
Now call me old-fashioned, but that doesn’t smack too much of optional.
4 St Peter’s Street, Huddersfield
Opening hours:Monday to Saturday, 5.30pm to 10pm and Sunday 4pm to 9pm.
Disabled access:Yes but not to toilets