Sunday, October 31, 2004
The Buenos Aires Grill in Seattle
Yesterday was my daughter's birthday. She is now 21 years old. We celebrated at the Buenos Aires Grill with all the kids, including her older brother Keith with Rachel and our first granddaughter Kylie Rose, in downtown Seattle.
I had previously read several reviews of the place and they were all at the same level as the link above. So I was expecting something great. But I was disappointed. The first hint was when we first walked in: the place is saturated with the thick odor of burning wood and grilling meat - but not smoky at all. My thought was that such a smoky atmosphere - without real smoke - was a good indicator. Ironically, I noticed there was no smoking allowed! The noise of the place was at a high decibel level. With a three-week newborn in tow, I thought this would be a difficult dinner. But it had no effect on little Kylie. She was awake only long enough for a diaper change and to take in more nourishment.
We were led to our table, a bench seat configuration capable of holding eight. With six in our party, we weren't crowded but the unpadded bench made it a little uncomfortable 90 minutes later. Our waiter, whose name I couldn't understand because of the noise, was very upbeat and informative. His accent, coupled in the noisy environment of the Grill, however, required close listening.
A note about the kitchen, which is separated from the dining area by the shoulder-high counter for holding the out-going food. The grill faces prominently just a few feet away with a stove to it's right. It's a three-foot by four-foot steel grill placed above another grill which holds wood embers, just a few inches above the bottom of the grill with even more embers. A section to the left of the grill receives wood for burning. Wood coals are occasionally shaken loose and shoveled under the grill to keep the whole thing hot. What a great idea. For the hard-core backyard BBQ meister, this might be something to consider when building your dream grill.
The menu is meat-heavy, including the salads. That was fine by all of us. And the salads (dominated by cold meat slices) were very good. The main dish meats were also very good - and filling. The only thing that caught us by surprise was that, apparently, Argentinean cuisine requires the patron to order vegetables separately from the meat dishes. This didn't occur to us until the meats arrived, but by then the menus were gone and we were awe-struck by the great mount of food before us.
The food was absolutely wonderful, the meat juicy with great flavor. But the service was poor once the food arrived. The waiter was difficult to find and dish-clearing was slow. We tried to get an after-dinner drink but gave up and went to the bar to get it. We waited to get the waiter's attention for the check and finally stood around our table looking bored in order to do so. Eric went outside for the last 15 minutes because the air was causing his eyes to burn and water.
Maybe on a week night the service is better. And if you're a meat-lover, I suspect you'll have difficulty finding a better grill. $35 per person is worth the money - with better service. So I give it about a 3.5 out of 5 and hope they work on, at least, the service.
Afterwards, Sharon met some friends near Pioneer Square to make the rounds of bars and clubs. No, she didn't get drunk, but she enjoyed herself. And one of them was the sober driver to ensure they all got home safely. Good for her and her friends.