Remember that ’80’s show with the theme song about going “where everybody knows your name”? That was definitely the feeling I experienced when visiting this lovely restaurant, Social Paraiso. The feeling is homey and warm, and we were shown to an adorable table in their tiny courtyard. Perfect for basking in the sun, while enjoying a delicious almuerzo with family and friends.
The menu was delightful, with more than one tip of the hat to Italian fare, the ingredients were impeccably fresh , well seasoned, and creatively presented. Let me show you a bit of what I’m talking about.
Angela ordered the Sarten de Hongos (Mushroom pan) which was garnished with sun dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and served with a crisp crouton. I can say that this was unabashedly delicious; in fact, I could have died happy after eating this dish. The texture of the mushrooms was perfect, with just enough resistance to the bite to make you really savor every piece. Angela actually asked me quite cheekily, at one point, if I had changed my mind about not ordering an appetizer. Her app turned out to be a gentle prelude to the marvel that her entree turned out to be. Now, I love a roasted chicken breast, as much as the next person, but the truth of the matter is that I’ve been served a lot of dry, tasteless chicken breast. Not so here! The Pechuga de Pollo Stuffed with Provolone and Pancetta, was fragrant, delicious and juicy, and delicately kissed by a soy and honey sauce that was truly remarkable. Finish off the plate with slices of Batata (sweet potato) gratin and a tiny mound of greens, and you’ve got a picture on a plate…feast your eyes:
Marc has the uncanny ability to walk into a restaurant he has never walked into before, and order the best thing on the menu…it never fails! Although truth be told, I was pretty hard pressed to figure out which was my favorite plate during this lunch…but back to Marc. I hear him order the Trio de Salmon(Salmon three ways) and the Patagonian Lamb Stew with Sweet Pea Puree, and Roasted Pumpkin and Gigot in Red Wine and Rosemary. The salmon was served three ways, Tartare: tossed with thin slices of sauteed celery and zucchini, Gravlax: on a crisp crouton with sour-cream and Poppy Seed garnish, and the Teriyaki, which was interestingly served atop a strip of white rice that had been seasoned with Roquefort Cheese. My eyes may have crossed around that time!
David ordered the Ensalada Verde con Queso de Cabra (Green Salad with Goat Cheese) as his first course, and the Pan Seared White Salmon with Potato, Red Peppers, Onions and Capers served with a mussel jus that was the perfect amount of sweet to foil the brine of the capers, and the smoke of the roasted red peppers. Let me just say this: that boy made mincemeat out of those plates…in fact, he got to the salad before I had a chance to photograph the presentation!
Our friend Paul also opted for the green salad, but decided to opt for the Veal Osso Buco L’Orange served with a delightful Risotto. The veal was tender and delicate, and the orange sauce was just aromatic and sweet enough without being cloying. Another hit!
Okay, my turn! Guess what I ordered? If you guessed steak, you hit the nail on the head. My entree was an unbelievably juicy Bife de Chorizo (Strip Steak) with Chimichurri that was served with a potato skin that had been crisped and filled with *gulp (are you ready for this?!)….Morcilla!!! The morcilla had been taken out of its casing and garnished with sour cream. I have never tasted anything that was so rich and delicious…I kept expecting someone to come in and holler, “Bad Daisy! Bad!”…I felt guilty through the very last, creamy, savory, delicious bite!
I’m very ready to get up from the table by this time, but Paula’s sister Maria (who is a friend of the manager) was meeting us for coffee, and insisted that we try the wonderful desserts. In fact Pelusa, the gracious manager (and mom-in-law of the owner!), waved my excuses away and had desserts brought to the table. Get a load of what came our way:
I’d like to say that I did the right thing and excused myself from the table, as full as I was, but the truth of the matter was that every single one of these desserts was a work of art in itself. The flavors and the textures were perfectly balanced with some terrific sweet/acid combinations, and then there were the soul comforting pairings of fruits like apple and warm bananas inventively presented and garnished. I raise my glass to the incredible staff that mans the kitchen at Social Paraiso (they totally made me feel like a den mother). Their passion and vibrancy is evident on every plate that leaves their kitchen.
I only regret that I don’t have my own little Social Paraiso here at home…I miss it already!
Social Paraiso Restaurant
Honduras 5182, Buenos Aires, Argentina