I know it makes us sound like we’ve got some kind of city centre agoraphobia but usually we don’t eat anywhere we can’t get to on foot. This week though we’ve managed to get all the way out to the Hagley Road to eat at Fiesta Del Asado, an Argentinian that’s in part supported from the folks at Lasan’s Indian restaurant. Don’t let that worry you though, it’s not some kind of weird Argentinian Indian fusion, it’s most definitely a South American Asado, or barbecue.
The restaurant is set in what a hundred years ago would have been an imposing double-fronted house, and the sympathetically decorated frontage sets an expectation of fineness within. We were not disappointed with the rustic-luxe feel, from the wooden floors and table, Birmingham English Heritage cutlery, unsymmetrical muted colour crockery, and the Argentinian knick knacks. The service lived up to the expectation set, although it’s yet another venue that didn’t offer to take our coats, despite their wintry bulk. Our table had a good view of the open kitchen and the signature grill fuelled by apple wood, olive wood, and charcoal. Even on a Tuesday night in January there were a fair few diners, so definitely a place to book.
Instead of bread, while we looked at the menus, we were offered small tasty chicken and sweetcorn empanadas. For starters I ordered the pan-fried chicken livers with green grapes and almonds in a sherry sauce. I’d not seen this dish before so I had to have it – it was a delicious combination of flavours and textures with the iron flavour of the liver being sweetened by the grapes and sherry sauce. We also ordered some beef empanadas, for those unfamiliar with South American cuisine these are an equivalent of cornish pasties although the contents are mildly spiced and they’re cooked by shallow frying to make them crisp on the outside. Our third starter dish was Choricitos, small links of delicately flavoured sausages. The starters came with some dipping sauces, and we particularly liked one that we think was made from smoked paprika. All of our starters were quite hearty, but we battled on to mains.
The mains include chicken, fish, vegetables, pasta, but most importantly given that it’s a barbecue steakhouse, beef! We had a ribeye steak which was cooked rare on the grill. It was a good piece of steak and had a lot of flavour, added to by the smokey flavour from the grill. The smoke flavour was incredibly intense. If you’re not a lover of smoked food, I don’t think it’s for you. We also had a dish of beef braised for twelve hours in a malbec and salchichon (sausage) sauce. The marinated beef had a lot of red wine flavour and was falling apart in the dish. I was impressed that when this was brought to the table in a lidded dish the waiter thought to bring a plate so it could actually be eaten. For some reason in all good restaurants it’s not unusual to get given a completely impractical dish or box to eat out of, most notably recently at The Lost & Found, everything was served in silly wooden boxes or cages that made actually eating the food a real chore. I’m also not a fan of being given food to eat off roofing product (slate), give me a normal plate any day. The crockery here at Fiesta Del Asado was both practical and attractive, as was the cutlery and glassware. Getting back to the beef, we loved it, and the sweet grilled corn on the cob was fantastic. We ordered a celeriac and orange salad and some fries on the side. They were very tasty but we didn’t really need them as we were as full as an egg by the time we’d done mains.
We did though, for the purposes of review research only try two deserts. The vanilla poached pear with rhubarb compote was very light, possibly a bit too light actually, but the Almond tart had a perfect crisp pastry and sticky almond sponge filling which we really enjoyed.
All in, with no wine because we’re not drinking in January (sponsor us for Dryathlon here), it came to about £40 a head.