The Argentinians like steak; no, scratch that – they LOVE steak. And I was going to eat like an Argentinean one Tuesday night a couple weeks ago at Constancia, an Argentian grill on the corner of Tower Bridge Road and Tanner Street, who bring in all their meat straight from Argentina. I believe it’s been open for a couple years already and there are mixed reviews online but hey, we (me, Blai, Mirna and her husband Sasa) couldn’t get into our first restaurant of choice that night and steak seemed like a fine alternative.
Those same mixed reviews state that you’ll walk out of that restaurant smelling like the parrilla, the grill on which all the meats are cooked. Actually, I didn’t even notice this open air parrilla in the restaurant until Mirna dragged me over to see it – we were all seated in the front by the windows. Sitting here also resulted in our not stinking – excellent!
Blai and I started by splitting an empanada de carne, which was filled with a saucy spiced meat and olive mixture. Oh, I wish I had two or three of these to myself! Excellent pastry and a good moist filling.
A basket of sliced bread was also brought to the table at this time, accompanied by a little pot of what the waiter called mayonnaise and pickles. Sure enough, this creamy, pickley mixture was a fine spread on the little slices of bread. Once again, I had to restrain myself from eating too much as we were soon about to approach the meatfest.
For mains, we decided to go all out (hence the minimal starter) and order the Parrillada Constancia (for 2 people): Bife de Chorizo, Ojo de Bife, 2 Chorizos, Morcilla, Provoleta. Let’s do a simultaneous breakdown and translation into English. We got 10oz of sirloin steak (bife de chorizo), 11oz of ribeye steak (ojo de bife), 2 Argentinian style pork sausages (chorizo), black pudding (morcilla) and provolone cheese with oregano (provoleta). The meats for all four of us came out on a huge platter heated from underneath by glowing coals.
Of the two steaks, the ribeye was my favourite, it being more flavourful than the sirloin. What we should have done though was take the steaks off the hot platter and let them rest on our plates for a while; instead, we dug in immediately, which may have affected the flavour and juiciness overall. The morcilla was absolutely gorgeous, possibly the best black pudding I’d ever had. It was tender and meaty and quite rich. Finally, we left our chorizos on the hot platter till the end, which might be the reason they ended up a bit dry but the flavour was alright, not as outstanding as that of the morcilla. These are not to be confused with Spanish chorizo which is spiced with plenty of smoked paprika – the Argentinian chorizo is just a coarse pork sausage. There was a little pot of delicious chimichurri on the table and this helped with the sausages.
To accompany this all and to make it a well-balanced meal, we had a humongous bowl of chips on the side. It really was a huge bowl.
And here’s the grilled cheese for 2, which came in its own separate dish. Yup, hot melted cheese is always a win though I couldn’t finish my half.
Despite stuffing our faces with the meat platter, we couldn’t leave without having dessert (gosh, we’re pigs… or perhaps it’s more apt to say we’re cows here). We split the Flan Casero con Dulce de Leche – homemade flan with Argentinian dulce de leche (the waiter confirmed that this latter was made in Argentina). This was excellent – very eggy and with a good texture and surprisingly, it went well with the rich dulce de leche.
All that beef didn’t come cheap though – with a few drinks, the bill came to about £50 per person, which is steep but not surprising for a steak meal. I like Constancia; it’s a fun place to eat and the food is good overall (though I still have to try Goodman and Hawksmoor) but I doubt I’ll be indulging in steaks very often – they burn a hole in one’s wallet!
52 Tanner Street
London SE1 3PH