Call yourself a carnivore? I do. But my carnivorous tendencies were pushed to the limit during a dinner at A La Cruz restaurant in Farringdon. The restaurant specialises in Argentinian steak and I was invited to a special dinner of steak and Septima wines. This was not just one steak course though, there were seven different meat dishes each matched with a different wine. Seven dishes is a whole lot of protein. It is a virtual meat fest. Could I do it? I really wasn’t sure, but I decided to give it my best shot.
Fillet of beef carpaccio
The restaurant is tucked away behind Exmouth Market in an old brick building that has a real steak house feel. There is lots of dark wooden panelling, and heavy wooden tables but the focus is firmly on the centrepiece of the asado which sits behind glass next to the kitchen. This was the fire pit on which the meat was cooked, set into the floor the heat radiated from the coals and up to the meat which was skewered in place on metal crosses above the asado. Every now and again the chefs turned the asado, checking the meat.
Septimo wines lined up ready to drink
As hypnotic as the coals of the asado were, we had steak to eat, so we sat down to a fillet of beef carpaccio. The meat was delicately sliced in thin, rosy circles and served with some capers to add saltiness. It was simple but delicious. This was served with the Septimo Dia Chardonnay a light, elegant wine which despite being a white wine proved an able match for the flavour of the red meat.
Next was sliced fillet steak cooked to the pink of perfection with a creamy almost Hollondaise mustard and wine sauce. Nicely charred from the asado this was flavourful prime beef. It was teamed with the Septima Noche a ruby red coloured light and fruity pinot noir.
Dish number three was the mini sirloin steak which we doused with salsa criolla a mixture of onions and pepper. Unfortunately the sirloin was over cooked and so the meat was not as tender and pliant as it could have been. This was paired with the Septima Malbec which is apparently Septima’s best selling wine and was warm with fruity, plummy flavours.
It wasn’t long though until the next perfectly cooked dish of steak landed on our table, cubes of succulent ribe-eye steak which we drizzled over chimichurri sauce, ubiquitous in Argentinia. We drank a glass of Septima’s Cabernet Sauvignon with the rib eye, a soft, floral wine.
Mini steak sandwiches
The fifth dish of the night was a mini-sandwich made from ciabatta bread filled with rump steak and rocket. Again the steak was slightly overdone for my liking but I absolutely loved the matching wine, Septima’s Dia Malbec, a very berry wine which was lightly oaked to add depth.
We were all getting very full by now, but somehow we managed to make room for the next dish a flank of beef with a cherry tomato and rocket salad. This hard working cut is perfect for grilling and was cooked on, and served to us while still sizzling from a mini hand held BBQ. The beef flank was paired with Septima’s Dia Cabernet which was a sweet tasting wine with a fruity taste and even a hint of mint about it.
After a long night of steak and wine, we reached our final dish, flank of lamb complete with all the trimmings of mint sauce and roasted vegetables. It was interesting to taste another meat cooked on the asado and the lamb had a lovely sweetness and moistness to it. The final wine match of the night was the Septima Gran Reserva. Septima cautions against calling this an “iconic” wine but whatever you call it, it is certainly bold and intense.
And we were done! We had eaten seven meat courses and polished off wine to match as well. Slightly drunken and very full it was time to head home and try and eat vegetables for the rest of the week in penance.
If you want to try out the Septima and steak pairings for yourself you can visit A la cruz on the first Monday of every month from 1 November and pay £36.50 for three courses of three different cuts of prime Argentine meat along with a glass of Septima Malbec.
Details: 42 Northampton road, Farringdon EC1R 0HU (Ph 020 7837 199) Tube: Farringdon
Gourmet Chick was a guest of Septima
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my reviews of nearby restaurants in Exmouth market – the newly opened Caravan or the well established Moro.