I remember just after first moving to the area, my ex and I met a couple in the North Star pub who tipsily offered us newbies a recommendation or two: take the dog to Wanstead Park, they implored, as its lakes are so beautiful, and waste no time in booking Singburi (it was much, much easier back then). Oh, and for the best steak, they added, there’s only one place locally: Asado. “It’s a bit in the middle of nowhere – but it really is up there with Hawksmoor.”
That middle-of-nowhereness is arguably why it so swiftly slipped off my radar. Sure, I’ve walked past it occasionally on the lower stretches of Leytonstone High Road (running south to Maryland) and thought of popping in often. But I haven’t quite.
The other weekend the bf and I were at Stratford Picturehouse – incidentally, never has an audience been so badly behaved – when, midway through the film I decided we had to de-stress at Asado afterwards. A quick pint at the newly reopened rock pub Cart & Horses in Maryland (“proud home of Iron Maiden”) later, we stomped up to the corner of Cann Hall Road, where the Argentinian steakhouse has stood for many years.
It was a busy Saturday night, and a bit of a gamble without a booking, but serendipitously we nabbed the final free table for two. Stepping inside, the simple low-lit space evoked a sense of calm, while service was instantly friendly. Our only suggestion would be to remove the frosting covering half the window so diners can see out – and passers-by in.
The Argentinian menu – the chefs are ex-Gaucho – reads like a dream: ceviche, scallops and shrimp tempura for starters, a detailed selection of beefy cuts for mains, all sourced from Pampas, an area of Argentina famous for its high quality steak.
We ordered the two cheapest cuts for contrast (see main pic, above): a pleasingly thick slab of 250g rump (£22.95) came temptingly pink, criss-crossed and butter-soft to slice, no mean feat for this distinctive lean cut.
Sirloin, meanwhile, was juicy (£24.95) and rosy, tender and succulent, with a strip of well-griddled fat. Chimichurri and Ecuardorian sauces were tangy and nutty respectively, chips hand-cut and sides of buttery beans and spinach yielded a hit of lemon. House Argentinian Malbec is priced at £27, not bad either these days.
Of course we’ll be back – when we’re due another treat, that is. The moral of the story? If you’re new to a neighbourhood, don’t ignore locals’ advice. Especially if they’re a few wines down. And that, I suppose, is where Leytonstoner comes in – although the recommendations might come a week or two later, once the hangover has passed.