It is boring, predictable and suggests you may be a serial killer.
Luckily, I fulfil only two of the above criteria, although I am not saying which two.
Why then, on my second visit to Fiesta del Asado in Birmingham, did I pick the same dishes I picked the first time? The answer, of course, is simple: I couldn’t help myself. Show me a person who doesn’t want a big, juicy sausage followed by a big, juicy steak and I’ll show you a person I don’t particularly want to go to dinner with. There are honourable exceptions, but not many.
Fiesta del Asado is an Argentinian-style restaurant, the first of its type on the Brummie pampas, so you can take it as read that it is Carne Central. There are some fish courses but this place is all about the fabulousness of charred flesh. And when it comes to flesh at Fiesta, it’s all about the ancho.
I’ve gone on record as saying this is the finest steak I have chomped in Birmingham, and it does require some serious chomping. I stand by my rather pointless claim. There might be more tender cuts and finer preparations out there but this sort of full-on meat beast whispers to my soul.
The bife de ancho is 38 ounces of undiluted rib eye, cooked slowly on its whopping great bone on the kitchen’s groovy parrilla grill. There is no faffing about asking how you want the steak cooked; it just arrives, somewhere around medium-rare, the fat caramelised (if you can you caramelise fat). I am grinding my teeth now, just thinking about it.
Ah, and the scent of the fresh chimichurri. It’s all wonderfully simple. No gimmicks.
The cut serves two and arrives on a sharing plate, looking utterly irresistible. Cue: unseemly elbow-jostling from fellow guests. Push them out of the way, shear off a hunk of meat, close your eyes and you could be on the high sierra, kicking back around an open fire in cowboy boots and leather.
As there were five of us, we ordered two ancho and a parrilla mixta (ideal for 2). The latter comprises a selection from the grill: more steak (“I thought you’d never ask”), this time tender rump; lamb chops; chicken wings; and a small hill of sausages.
I had already seen off a morcilla curada, a smoky, black sausage jazzed up with sweet onion and paprika, so I just tried everything else.
I could eat morcilla curada every day for breakfast; I am in love with it. To paraphrase Diana Ross sing “Love Hangover”: “If there’s a cure for curada, I don’t want it. I don’t want it.”
I would also recommend the smoked paprika and garlic chistorra sausage.
But clearly, this wasn’t enough meat, so chef Aktar Islam – he of Lasan fame – wisely sent out more steak, this time bife de angosto. This is a 16oz single muscle joint taken from the loin. It trumps an effete fillet steak any day.
Sides are extra, but not extortionate, and the fries with parsley and garlic (£1.99) are good. As are the whopping gordal olives stuffed with a blast of heat from guindilla. So many olives in Birmingham restaurants are crap. These aren’t.
The wine, malbec, was ordered by friends and I didn’t look at the label because they were paying (I love these guys) and I was fixated on the meat. The vino was very good, lovely and fruity without that nasty bramble sweetness. The wine list is consistent and affordable.
We had shared some starters. All right, some of us shared more than others, but I am not in the business of naming names. There were empanadas, veal sweetbreads, chicken livers, baby back ribs of pork. I’d recommend the morrones asados – roasted pequillo peppers stuffed with black olives and feta cheese. I tried them on the previous visit, meaning I pinched them from someone else’s plate. Well, I needed to cleanse my palate after the black sausage.
A word on prices: the ancho costs £45.98 (don’t ask me how they come up with a price ending in 98p).
But as the steak is for two it works out at £22.99 each. For what you get, it is great value.
The angosto is £23.98 and, although you will hate yourself for doing so, it could be shared between two.
Fiesta del Asado, 229 Hagley Road, Edgbaston, B16 9RP.
Tel: 0121 455 9331.
THIS BLOG IS SPONSORED BY CHAMBERLAINS LETTINGS, WHICH HAS OFFICES IN HARBORNE, MOSELEY, SELLY OAK AND SOLIHULL