I was out for my evening stroll and a good friend was on my mind, as last weekend he celebrated his birthday, so I ended up upon the doorstep at my favorite Argentine restaurant Carlitos Gardel on 7963 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.
They’re a true family owned and operated Argentine restaurant, and I have to express one thing to you, if anything…You’ll not find anything like this place in all of Los Angeles. Their style of cooking is region specific and if you have never tasted Argentine food, THIS is the place you need to start with.
I am a novice when it comes to white wine but I wasn’t afraid as I knew the master of wines was on hand tonight, Maximiliano Bozoghlian! He knew that I went with the Argentine deep fried whole catfish and paired me with the 2012 release of Bruno Giacosa’s Roero Armes (DOCG). It was perfect, light, dry, added a nice complement to the entire meal!
Next up was the Argentine Chicken Empanada. Presentation is everything, the crust was perfect, a little bit of Chimi Churri (Olive Oil, Parsley, Garlic, Red Pepper, Salt, Pepper & Oregano) just lightly dabbed atop and the chicken within, perfectly marinated, the whole thing just melted in your mouth with every bite. One can’t forget to take the occasional sips of Roero Armes to wash it down, simply perfect!
Then the Portabella arrived, grilled, smothered with melted provolone cheese, sautéed spinach and feta cheese with a light accent of red peppers lightly sprinkled on top. You’ll need a knife to cut thru this layered explosion of tastiness as each bite was just magic, and I found myself reaching for the Chimi Churri to added that little bit of extra something to just push it over the top. I’ve had Portabella mushrooms before, but never like this! I also found myself every third or fourth bite again sipping that mazing white wine, simply a perfect balance.
Lastly the deep fried catfish arrived. Now I have to admit, catfish is one of my go to choices when it comes to an earthly fish, and I’ve had it just about every way you can think of… but until tonight… the Argentine way had yet crossed my taste-buds. I can’t even start to tell you how perfectly fried it was… but not that greasy fried… dry-fried if that makes any sense. The meat cleaved from the bones in such a way, when you were done with one side, flip it over… PRESTO… more fish! More than a meal by its self and I found myself only really using the lemon that it came with and barely touching the aioli that it came with, as the citrus with the fish was really all it needed. Each bite was washed down with the Roero Armes 2012 and the meal was complete.
This is a great place to go on your own, however with the ambiance and music selection softly playing in the background, this is definitely a date night kind of place! I can’t highly recommend how wonderful the whole experience was, the food was perfect, the wait staff more than friendly, and in the end, your enjoyment of the food prepared at Carlitos Garadel and your enjoyment eating it is paramount to them all!