Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Longest, Strangest Trips

Back in the late 90s and early 00s, I used to go to this place on the Upper West Side called Pampa.  Pampa was an Argentinian steak house that served large, traditional steaks.  They also served sweetbreads (back then, I didn't know what they were and never would have eaten them) as well as a delicious tortilla that I remember really loving. 

Pampa closed last year and the restaurant that opened in its place, La Rural, retains most of the same qualities.  The decor hasn't changed.  Tables are still equipped with a glass container of chimichurri sauce.  The back still opens into a charming patio.  A large, family-style table still occupies the center of the dining room.  

Sadly, the tortilla is gone, but the steaks remain, as do the crunchy and creamy empanadas--we got corn.  We also had a large, vinegary salad with white onion, lettuce, and surprisingly sweet beefsteak tomatoes.  An appetizer of steamed asparagus came with both goat cheese and shaved parmesan, which was a bit confusing, but still tasty.  Grilled sweetbreads suffered from too little tenderization and too much flame, but they still had that envious fatty texture reminiscent of the fat cap of a very good rib-eye. 

As for steak, I had the churrasco, my old favorite.  It's the thin-sliced top of the sirloin, grilled.  It may be only 11 or 12 ounces, but it spreads out over the plate with abandon.  I've never left one unfinished and, true to form, I didn't last night.  That's one of the benefits of training for a marathon.

La Rural
768 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10025

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