The Beef? It's Here

Meat is the message at BA Grill


Second and Virginia, DOWNTOWN 206-441-7076

lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; dinner 5 p.m.-midnight Mon.-Sat., 5-10 p.m. Sun. DINING OUT IN America is growing ever more bipolar: on the one hand, restaurants catering to ever lighter, healthier, even vegetarian tastes; on the other, establishments devoted to "comfort food," served in huge portions with no consideration of calories. Buenos Aires Grill, the new tenant of the Poor Italian space at Second and Virginia, falls heavily into the latter category. Owner Marco Casas Beaux wants to create a restaurant that would not be out of place on a chic side street off his hometown's Plaza de Mayo. He's already well on the way to fulfilling that dream: The lights are low, a bandoneon sobs and shrieks on the sound system as supple-flanked tango dancers slither through the room, and the miniature grill beside your table is laden with meat: meat naked, meat unashamed, chunks of flank steak, butterflied sweetbreads, slabs of baby ribs, a chorizo sausage oozing with juice, even a chicken breast (looking a little too demure for such racy company). Now that we've got those wussy vegetarians out of the way, here's the really big news for meat fans: The price for all that protein on the parrillada (parrilla means "grill") is just $17 per diner; and the menu promises that if you manage to get through the array mentioned above, it will be renewed until—ominously —you cry, "No mas! No mas!!" On this menu, you can hardly get away from meat. The tasty little empanadas (deep-fried fritters, $6) that start the meal are stuffed with ground beef. The BA salad ($7.50) mixes watercress and slivered almonds with smoked pork loin. The appetizer called matambre ("kill-hunger," $7.50) is a cold roulade of veggie-stuffed flank steak. Even the items not directly derived from animal muscle tissue are oil- or dairy-dosed: Provoleta ($7) is a luscious pool of grilled provolone seasoned with oregano and sea salt and is just begging to be spread on chunks of bread; the side of deep fries ($4.50) is a mighty platter redolent of garlic and parsley, while chopped swiss chard ($4.50) is impregnated with cream and sprinkled with prosciutto bits. Oh, you can dodge meat if you try, but why? If you don't want grilled meat—rib-eye steak ($17), tenderloin ($16), lamb steak ($16), pork flank ($14)—all served in 16-ounce portions—what are you doing here? In Buenos Aires, restaurants open about 10 at night and patrons sit for hours, drinking, smoking, arguing, and, from time to time, eating. The only way to deal with the BA menu (tamed but not softened by chef Marianne Zdobysz) is to do the same: Take your time. Can rushed Seattleites learn to do that? Time will tell; but the BA is already humming, even on weeknights, even though true Argentinian beef won't be on the menu till January—and not all the voices raised in noisy celebration are speaking Spanish.

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