Spice up your dinner plans with Chimis, Southwark’s newest taste of South America and home of the best steak we've probably ever eaten
Words by Victoria Fell
A trip to Borough Market is never complete without stopping at Brindisa for generous portion of manchego to nibble on (and, let’s face it, a cheeky glass of vino) to refuel after an afternoon of shopping. Imagine our extreme excitement to hear that Nico Modad (the former head chef behind of our aforementioned favourite tapas venue) has teamed up with Argentinian street food guru Federico Fugazza and operations manager Mijal Lasus to set up Chimis, an Argentinian parilla restaurant just a stone’s throw from the market where it all began for the team.
For those of us whose Spanish is currently a bit on the mierda side and want a quick translation, a parilla is the traditional iron barbecue that Argentinians have been using to grill their food for generations. Entering Chimis, you are hit with delicious smoky aromas emanating from the open kitchen and the sight of that all-important charcoal grill: we quickly turned from hungry to ravenous.
The exposed wood and metal furniture give the restaurant a cool feel but the greeting and service we experienced throughout the night was nothing but warm. Staff were on hand to give recommendations and explain anything on the menu that needed clarification, with a smile and zero judgement (we really do need to work on our Spanish…)
Chimis has an extensive menu, offering classic Argentinian style dishes from steak to grilled octopus, with almost everything served with a hearty portion of the restaurant’s namesake side sauce chimichurri. Every recipe for this Argentinian staple of herbs, oil and lemon juice differs slightly, but Chimis’ red or green versions offer different spice levels, which are perfect for every palate.
It would have been rude not to enjoy a glass of Argentinian red and the Reto Malbec (£29) that we chose delivered on its promise of lilac and violet tones. Almost reminiscent of Parma Violets, this was the perfect long red to accompany the meat feast that awaited us. Starters were of just as high a calibre, with unbelievably light mollejas (sweetbreads, £7) set off perfectly by the chimi lemon sauce, as well as escabeche de berenjena y queso de cabra (marinated aubergine with goat’s cheese, £6.50) which perfectly combined the tangy warm goats’ cheese with expertly spiced aubergine.
Heading straight for the parilla for main course, my guest and I both went for steak. The ojo de bife (Argentinian ribeye, £22) and bife de chorizo (Argentinian sirloin, £23) were tender and cooked to perfection, with a refreshing of tomato and oregano salad (otherwise £4.50) and perfectly salted sweet potato fries (otherwise £4.50) included in the price.
For dessert, we simply had to sample the rich and creamy panqueque with dulce de leche (dulce de leche crepes, £5), whilst empanada de manzana (Argentinian apple crumble style with vanilla ice cream, £5) gave a South American spiced twist to a British classic. Just when we thought our evening couldn’t get any sweeter, we were given a complimentary glass of dessert wine; the perfect note on which to end our night
The great atmosphere and food, including perhaps the best steaks we’ve tried this side of Buenos Aires, mean that Chimis is the perfect Argentinian antidote to British winter blues. ¡Buen provecho!