Buenos Aires Cafe – Galleria
'Chronicle' foodies dive into the fresh offerings out west
Reviewed by Virginia B. Wood, Fri., July 19, 2013
Mon.-Thu., 11am-3pm, 6pm-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 11am-3pm, 6pm-10pm; Sun., 11am-8pm
Buenos Aires Cafe – Galleria13500 Galleria Circle, Bee Cave, 512/441-9000
Mon.-Thu., 11am-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 11am-10pm; Sun., 11am-8pm
Argentina-born chef Reina Morris is well-regarded in the local restaurant community for the quality of her exemplary baked goods. Her empanadas are a bite of heaven with wonderful savory treasures encased in delicate, flaky crusts, and the alfajores of her homeland could be a national treasure anywhere. Based on my respect for her talent, I had high hopes for our visit to the Buenos Aires outlet in the Hill Country Galleria. The empanadas and desserts more than lived up to Morris' reputation, but we had some issues with both food and service. We arrived at 1pm for a ladies' lunch and found the large, comfortable restaurant pretty much deserted – no hostess to greet us, no one manning the bar. Eventually a young woman came forward with menus and told us we could seat ourselves. She appeared to be the only person working the floor and seemed much more focused on consuming her own lunch than providing service to the few customers the entire time we were in the restaurant.
The menu offers a selection of five different empanadas ($2.99 each) that make marvelous appetizers or a substantial meal when paired with one of the inviting salads. (We found the spinach salad with apples and candied pecans more appealing than the rather plain Caesar.) The award-winning Lomito Beef sandwich ($13.99) is as good a sandwich as you're likely to find in Austin: perfectly cooked tenderloin slathered with the house signature chimichurri sauce on a soft baguette. A plate of gnocchi ($11.99), on the other hand, was a disaster, with pasty gobs of dough in a tepid, too-sweet sauce. Avoid it. We couldn't explain to the flabbergasted women at the only other seated table why we two women would order four desserts but, to our credit, we did offer to share. The Quatro Leches cake ($5.99) and the Pionono roulade full of fresh strawberries ($5.49) are lovely to look at and worth the calories. And be sure to get some alfajores ($2.10) to go.