I was invited to dine at a new South American Restaurant in Neutral Bay “La Puerta” owned by chef Oscar Espinosa, and his delightful wife, Catherine Rodriguez who runs the operations of the business. Oscar was trained under the best chef in Bogota, his hometown in Columbia and was previously head chef at Mexicana.
It’s a charming little restaurant with an outside area and windows large enough to bring both the indoor and outdoor space together. What really stuck me were the fabulous wall murals as I entered. The restaurant was busy for a Tuesday night. I was reviewing alone this night, which I often do.
The menu fits on one page, and I like that; I’d rather have a selection of few really awesome dishes than a ton of choices that may be mediocre. Once I settled in with a glass of 2012 “1884 Temranillo” from Argentina $9 glass $54 bottle it was time to get into the serious business of eating.
Worthy of noting that the majority of the dishes are gluten free!
Corn based mini-empanadas with beef $4 p/p (GF). These were fabulous with a bit of a bite and accompanied by a fresh tangy sauce. You get about two bites out of each one.
Coastal Prawn Cocktail
Lime cured fresh Mooloolaba prawns (QLD) dipped in a mix of aioli and spiced tomato base and served with plantain chips $24 (GF). This was my highlight of the dishes I chose from. The dish comes layered in the cocktail glass, and then you mix it together yourself. The combination of the lime and the spiced tomato was spot on, it was quite tangy and very refreshing. The plaintain chips (savory banana) were thin and crispy and matched nicely with the prawns.
Chorizo and crispy potato salad with grilled capsicum chutney $18 (GF). Catherin told me that Oscar sources the best chorizo on the market and combined with the chutney this was a spicy and tasty dish.
The Ultimate Argentinian style steak (250g) with red wine chimichurri $24 (GF). I didn’t actually taste this however grabbed a photo of the dish that was served on the table next to me.
Cassava croquettes, criolla yellow potatoes and crispy squashed plaintains. The yellow potato is a delicious potato grown in countries located in the north part of South America, particularly popular in Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela & Colombia. It’s the first time I’ve ever tried them, and they are quite soft with a taste very different from your everyday spud! I enjoyed the croquettes and found the plantains a little chewy.
By now I had really done my dash with tasting so didn’t opt for a dessert.
I did finish off with a little taste of Padrillos Malbec an Argentina wine full of character $12 glass $68 bottle.
The artist I’m told is Edwin Mills however I have not been able to find anything about him on the net, so I’d love to find out more.
Verdict! Check out La Puerta if you fancy a bit of South American dining, it’s a buzzing restaurant that I’m sure will become very popular.