When we heard this Argentine meat restaurant did not have properly dry-aged steaks on offer we wondered if we should be cancelling our table. After a taste of their quality meat action we were terribly pleased we didn’t. Constancia is a serious destination for the lover of top-grade meat.
As we walked in we could smell the powerful aromas coming from the charcoal grill. This had pride of place right in the middle of the restaurant; an altar ready to accept meaty offerings. Generally, the dining room was quite attractive with minimalist dark wood tables, modern leather chairs and the brickwork on the back wall painted a livid red. This struck me as a good environment for eating meat.
The menu at Constancia is short and focussed; themed on bits of meat, of course. There were some wines listed in it but we fancied beer. I was very pleased they had Peroni Red (it is so rough when you swallow it you can feel it doing you good) as one of an ample selection of beers. We sipped our beers and waited. The delicious smell of sausages and meat grilling on the parrilla made our mouths water and our desire for meat ever more intense.
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First up on the starter front came some Empanadas, Argentine beef pasties. Fresh from the fryer these were terribly hot, but the flavour was just fine. a tasty, very meaty filling with a bit of paprika heat inside a compellingly crispy pastry shell.
My other starter was an Argentine Chorizo; it was very piggy with finely ground, rather cured meat. Its already considerable depth of flavour was further enhanced by grilling on the parrilla. The black pudding (aka morcilla) Dan ordered had a great texture, not too liquid or slimy, and tasted like a top example of black pudding. When a restaurant can produce top-flight pasties, sausages and black pudding you really know the the evening will not be wasted.
The final starter, chosen by Daniel and ‘Non-stinky’ Jeff, consisted of slices of Iberico pork tenderloin with some pointless salad attempt; why bother with these bits of ephemera? The Salsa Criolla crudo, a sauce with finely chopped onion, bell pepper, tomato, garlic, parsley and vinaigrette, was a new and pleasant experience. We also emptied a rather small pot of Chimichurri sauce. This was very much on the mild side.
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Steaks were an obvious choice for our main courses. Daniel’s fillet steak was tender with a good crust, and quite a lot of flavour for a piece of fillet. It was also a pretty serious size, it looked like half a Chateaubriand.
Dan and Jeff went for sirloin steaks and what a top option they turned out to be. Satisfying moist meaty flavour was just bursting from them; every mouthful was a piece of carnivorous delight. I was also enthused by their remarkably tender texture. Much like Hawksmoor’s sirloin they nearly matched the tenderness of the fillet steak, whilst still having that extra beefiness we love sirloin for.
These were really grown up steaks, to be enjoyed by the lover of visceral, life affirming good times. When you have pieces of meat that are this good it does make one wonder how vegetarians can even exist.
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We ordered two portions of chips to go with our top-drawer meat action, one bowl of them would have been enough as they were quite large and not, if we are honest, much more than competent. Sod the chips, though, we came for meat and it was delivered.
The meal was well-lubricated with plenty of beer and we didn’t hold back in the amount we ordered, yet the bill was only half as much as a typical evening at Hawksmoor. Constancia’s meat is not quite up to the stellar heights of Hawksmoor, but is clearly better and cooked far more skilfully than at any Argentine steakhouse we’ve been to anywhere in the world. All in all, a hoopy gustatory party of lewd pleasure. A ‘must visit’ establishment if you like terribly good meat.
Contact details: Constancia, 52 Tanner Street SE1 3PH. Telephone: 020 7234 0676