The restaurant that restored my faith

17 September 2015 - 02:11 By Andrea Burgener


Going out for a meal usually makes me slightly anxious. Why? Because nine times out of 10 I end up cross. It's mostly about the lacklustre food; sometimes about the rest of it too. And the knowledge that I'm probably going to be irrationally angry with the world for the rest of the day or evening fills me with dread.But optimism always trumps anxiety, and I remain a recklessly avid eater-outer. This weekend my optimism was rewarded.For anyone jaded by too many mediocre meals in cookie-cutter settings run by robots, I can only say run, don't walk (or okay, maybe drive), to 303 Fox Street in Maboneng. Che Argentine Grill, the newest addition to the rapidly expanding Maboneng precinct, is in a league of its own. I can't say enough good things about this place. It's fantastic, glorious, brilliant, wonderful, and all the words next to those in the thesaurus.The last time I'd eaten Argentinian food in Johannesburg was about 18years ago, when a dinkum Argentinian grill operated for about a year. I remember two things about eating there: that the grilled meat was extraordinarily good, and that (a slight appetite-suppressant) apartheid spy Craig Williamson was at the table next to us. After it closed I never found proper Argentinian food in the city again.But at last, Che is here. The meat is even better than that long-gone place and the patrons less evil. The room is big, warehousey, spare, but also warm and charming. On one side is a wood-fire grill, upon which almost all meat dishes are prepared. Though the grills are the thing, it's a good plan also to try the fascinating chicken escabeche, as well as the empanadas, which is where vegetarians can hide. They're magnificent. Maybe best of all is the Argentinian style chouri├žo sausage, a universe away from the over-spiced, leathery things that infest our delis and pizzerias.To top it all, this is the only place I've been to in a very long time where the beef, pork and chicken are all free-range. If I had more space, I'd ramble on about the fantastic puddings.Amazingly, considering the quality of what they're doing, Che wasn't packed on a Sunday at lunch, but that's surely because the business is so new. Oscar Faraldo and Bernado Corti deserve to be swamped with diners at every sitting, and I predict that very soon they will be.Che Argentinian Grill, 303 Fox Street, Maboneng. 011-6140264. Open Wednesday to Friday for dinner, Saturday and Sunday lunch and dinner.

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