Dinner in Argentina can vary from grilled meat at a traditional parilla (which is usually excellent, by the way) to something close to a tranformative experience. I did not expect to find the latter in rural Bariloche in the lake region of Patagonia, but my trip to Cassis near San Carlos de Bariloche was just that. About ten minutes into the taxi ride from the Llao Llao resort, I began to suspect that I was being taken into the deep woods to be murdered. It was pitch black dark and there was nothing around. Finally, the driver annouced that we had arrived at Cassis. I blinked and looked around and finally found the unlit steps into the restaurant. The second I walked in, everything changed. The room was warm and softly lit and had a mountain lodge feel to it. We were seated by the friendly staff and soon we were drinking a wonderful Torrontes while we perused the menu. Ernesto Wolf, half of the couple that owns and operates Cassis, came over to explain the night’s menu. Soon we were devouring trout rilletes, chicken liver pate with quince chutney and a wonderful garden salad made with greens grown on the property with roasted sunflower seeds and an elderflower vinaigrette. The two stars of the evening were local salmon trout with a zucchini crudo followed by an amazing lamb stroudle with phyllo, washed down by a delicious Malbe recommended by Ernesto. All in all, the meal was one of the best I’ve ever had (and I’ve had many, many meals all over the world). The pace was relaxed but timely, the ambience was calm and cozy and the quality of the ingredients was obviously a priority of the chef (Ernesto’s wife Mariana). This spot is worth the trip to Patagonia all by itself. Make sure to include it in your plans when you’re in the area.
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