Houston >Tango and Malbec
Very nice place, excellent execute,
great meats and friendly/professional
Awesome wine list and many plus all around.
Wonderful South American Cuisine.
Tango & Malbec's proprietors hail from various parts of Argentina and Uruguay. It keeps suitably late dining hours, the better to attract a sophisticated South American clientele. Its strong South American wine list could convince any skeptic of the glories of under sung Argentinian wines, including those from the hot new winemaking region of Patagonia.
The room is handsome and upscale in a slightly corporate fashion, all shipshape bricks and blacks and reds with a sweep of open kitchen at the back, where an ingenious tiered grill set-up, fired with mesquite and pecan as a constant source of embers, greets guests with the primal aroma of wood smoke.
Better yet the food has personality and visual style. I love the oblong pizzas cooked fast in the wood-burning oven and topped with such parilla-grilled meats as full-flavored short rib, lush with beef fat; or spicy slices of chorizo sausage. Mild scarlet pepper slices, roasted and tart, set off the rich meat flavors, and the flatbread-like crusts are thin and crackly, with the occasional bubbled ridge rearing up.
The tango soundtrack is enjoyable as is the wonderful slate of Malbecs and Malbec blends on the wine list. Achával Ferrer by the glass, or Nomade “Las Mulas” Malbec blend by the bottle, argue eloquently for the deep, dense, earthy charms of this red grape. Want to try something on the lighter side? There’s an elegant 2007 Humberto Canale Pinot Noir Gran Riserva that is well worth the $56 splurge.
The first courses can be so substantial that it’s easy to over-order. The iron skilletful of crisped sweetbreads, cleverly butterflied to increase the seared surfaces, can be absolutely terrific when they are pulled off the heat in time. The thin-sliced tongue vinaigrette, served as a cold salad, can persuade a doubter of the soft, tender charms of this underutilized meat.
Empanadas are the fried kind, their layered pastry crusts bubbling up alluringly. The version with big pale kernels of the white corn called choclo in a creamy sauce is particularly good; so is the molten onion-and-cheese empanada, a classic Argentinian combination called fugazetta. They’re swell with a little hit of the restaurant’s garlicky red chimichurri sauce.
I have had very good luck with the red meats grilled on the wood-stoked parilla here, especially a tender, expansively beefy-tasting buffalo churrasco steak, ordered rare and delivered that way; and, at lunch, a junior-version churrasco of lomo, the Argentinian term for tenderloin. I liked the side of mild-mannered, homey potato salad “rusa,” or Russian style (which means with carrots and peas and mayonnaise).
The buffalo churrasco’s side of marinated eggplant was another matter: the thick chunks stiff and resistant in their cylindrical tower, and capped with roasted mushrooms.
The beef short ribs from the parilla were an astonishment: thick clods of meat on the bone. A gratifying hunk of beef. Its nicely crisped exterior made an interesting change-up from the usual braised treatment short ribs get in North America.
There are a number of seafood dishes on the menu, but most of them (with the exception of the salt-baked fish of the day for two) seemed too baroque for me, with a soupçon of old-school Continental cream-saucing thrown in. A side order of chorizo and blood sausage, two fat tubes served side by side was rather good.
The Postre Chajá of ladyfingers, syrupy peaches, meringue and sweetened whipped cream and the wafer-tower of Torta Rogel layered with dulce de leche and meringue so thick and sweet it was crunchy with sugar crystals are not to be missed.
For those desiring less sugary desserts, the lower-key dulce de leche cheesecake with an interesting garnish of tart-sweet dried apricots or a simple plate of quince paste, sweet-potato paste and white cheese, all cut into narrow spokes and laid on the plate in a starburst shape or wonderful options.
Truly Memorable. We love this reastaurant. It's like stepping into a slice of Argentina, Ugruguay or Paraguay on each visit. The service is exceptional, the wine list is notable, and the dishes are truly authentic. We come here for very special occasions, and it always leaves a truly memorable and fond impresion, not just in our minds.................but in my hearts.
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