Saturday, February 16, 2013

El Matador, Wellington (NZ)

Despite my obsessive list making and need to visit every restaurant on my eat-list when I travel...I do also like to explore a new city and stumble up little gems that the internet hasn’t dished up for me before my trip. Which is how The Boy and I found El Matador...a post dinner stroll after our dinner at Logan Brown led us to El Matador...a self-proclaimed “old world” Argentinean eatery.


We returned a few nights later with my work peeps for a good old meat-feast. It’s really interesting to see in NZ that nearly every restaurant we went to served free-range meat AND eggs, and they stated it loud and proud on their menus.  I really think this is GREAT and I wish that more Aussie places would do this – just say it up front so we don’t have to ask.


El Matador cooks all of its delicious meat on an open wood fired grill, known as an adores and parrilla (yes yes, just like Porteno here in Sydney).  We left smelling quite smoky – but it’s a small price to pay for an amazing feast.


We begin our feast with a few plates of tapas.  It seems most democratic for us each to pick the tapas of our choice. I tried really hard to influence people’s choices (food bloggers prerogative, right?) as there were SO many great things listed on the menu.

My choice was broad beans with prosciutto, cos lettuce, onions & cream ($NZ9.00).  This seems like such a simple dish on face value but it really was so flavoursome.  Now that I’ve had the pleasure of trying fresh broad beans I have to say I love them. My mother used to serve up the frozen kind out of a bag when I was a kid...nasty stuff.  The Baking Lady went with the grilled chipotle octopus w/ fennel, red onion & tomato (NZ$12.00). The octopus was so tender and smoky in flavour – a great dish.


We also sampled a simple salad of baby spinach salad with feta + sherry vinaigrette (NZ$7.00) – I could replicate this at home, but it’s the broadbean salad I’d really like to be able to whip up in my kitchen (any tips people, please).  A plate of steamed asparagus with basil butter (NZ$8.00) also graced our table along with a good old tapas staple - patatas bravas - fried potatoes w/ spicy tomato sauce (NZ$7.00).



To be our celebration of wonderful, free-range meat we decided to order an extra tapas dish for the table – just for good luck.  The grilled flank steak with chimichurri ($13.00) was wonderful. The meat was so tender it just fell from the bone with the touch of the fork.  The meat was so perfectly flavoured from its smoking over the parrilla.



With the arrival of the Parillada we move on to larger shares plates (NZ$45.00). This platter is crammed to the hilt with chicken, morcilla, chorizo, moellajas, beef  and lamb all fresh from the parrilla – it’s wonderful!

Morcilla, or blood sausage, is something that I’ve recently come to appreciate and this rendition is great, quite dry and crumbly.   I also love the garlicky chorizo, so much so that I might have snuck more than my fair share...which is fine really as Miss P is garlic impaired so I was doing her a favour by eating her share.



We finish the dinner section of the evening with a wonderful hunk of Rump steak (NZD$25.0) that is cooked medium in order to keep it nice and tender. Lady Ruth and I nearly went to heads on the cooking of the steak, her being more from the “ I like my steak pretty much raw and still mooing” camp and me being form the “burn it til it becomes shoe leather” camp.

El Matador recommends that this cut of steak is best served medium…a good compromise that saw us both pretty happy I’d say.  The rump was grilled over the wood-fired parrilla and came with some beautiful chapa potatoes, onions and chimichurri sauce. The potatoes were EXCELLENT - like someone had tipped a super tasty bag of Thins onto our plate.


Time for dessert and in a VERY smart move The Boy decides to go out on his own and orders a serve of Churros with warmed spiced chocolate sauce (NZD $9.00) all to himself.

Not wanting to be left out the ladies at the table also ordered the Churros.  I have to say it was the best Churros I've ever had - I think the spicy chocolate sauce really gave this dish a real ZING.  Because we're sharing our dessert amongst four bellies it seems sensible to also order the Panqueques con dulce de leche with the ice cream of the day (NZD $10.00).  These thin little pancakes were lifted to another level with the addition of the sweet dulce de leche. The richness of the sauce was cut through by the sharp flavour of the strawberry ice cream. Lovely.


El Matador is at 196 Cuba Street, Wellington Central, New Zealand.

15 comments:

  1. Wow. That sure was one meat feast! Pity I didn't know about when I was in Wello!

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    1. Hopefully they'll still be there when you next revisit. Worth a look-see.

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  2. This looks like a delicious and generous feast! We recently ate at an Argentinean place in Adelaide and it was really good. But, so much meat, even for us meat loving farmers :)

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    1. Lol, I guess even sheet farmers can have meat overload. I think we had a good balance of salads and "stuff" so I didn't feel too bad after this meal.

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  3. Any platter with black pudding in it is good in my books! Beautiful looking churros as well, mmhmm!

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    1. I'm just getting into black pudding...I like it.

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  4. What a luscious meal! Every dish looks gorgeous.

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    1. It was great - simple food, but so tasty.

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  5. Another Cuba Street great find! Food looks awesome, I'd dare to say better than Porteño.

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    1. I'd say it'd give Porteno a run for it's money that's for sure.

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  6. I am so impressed with all that food! and esp at that platter filled with so much meat! my gosh.. I really love the layout too!

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  7. Ohh my gosh, this looks like a MUST visit if I'm ever in Wellington. Love the look of the food here!

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    1. Every meal we had in Wellywood was GREAT! It's a great foodie city to visit.

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  8. Looks like there are some fab eats in Welly! Would love to visit one day :)

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