Noun 1. gastronome - a person devoted to refined sensuous enjoyment (especially good food and drink)bon vivant, epicure, epicurean, foodie, gourmetsensualist - a person who enjoys sensuality. Follow me on Twitter: @Aghastronome

Monday, March 7, 2011

Meatasaurus: Saldivia's South American Grill

I am one carnivorous woman.  Oh sure, I like the vegetables and fruits too, but, a meal without meat leaves me somewhat incomplete.  Well, unless it's a hearty root vegetable stewed concoction, sometimes.  Some of the best chimichurri sauce (and skirt steak) I have ever had went AWOL years ago.  This fabulous divey place called Chimi Churri's on Bellaire Blvd. just vanished when the old location was razed to make room for a new and improved strip center (is there such animal?).  I mourned the loss like a loved one.   You cannot know the joy the My Table news of Saldivia's South American Grill brought to my crusty little heart.  It's them!  It's the Chimi Churri's family, reborn as Saldivia's!  Yes, they have been open since 2009, but, I had not formally connected any dots, until My Table pointed this critical fact out.  We have been trying to put a plan to go since prior to the Christmas Holidays, but, a group of 9 - 12 people, with one in Boerne, TX makes coordination sorta tricksy.  It happened this past Saturday.  It was glorious.

The old location was divey and I loved it.  The new location is modern and sleeky and I love it.  The space is very clean, uncluttered and warm feeling.  Crusty bread is brought out to accompany the chimichurri on the table and it's difficult to resist.  Their chimichurri is slightly tangy, not all herb and oil and somewhat loose in texture, perfect for dipping.  I ordered the Ensalada Mixta, while two of my friends mixed it up by ordering the Ensalada de Palmitos (hearts of palm).  The salads were nice and crisp with a perfect amount of vinaigrette that kept them from being weighty or soggy.  The hearts of palm was raved over (I behaved and didn't badger anyone for a bite).  I ordered the Entrana, which is served with Spanish rice, grilled vegetables and roasted potatoes for $18.95.  Other entrees ordered at our table included the Milanesa Napolitano (beef cutlet) which has a tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on top, the Pechuga A Las Brazas and boneless beef short ribs (whose name I cannot recall - I'm fired from food blogging, I know).  The short ribs were $12.95 and the deal of the night.  The "short rib" is a bonless strip of beef that was about an inch thick and served with grilled vegetables and roasted potatoes.  It's grilled to perfection (as were all of the beef orders) and the plate is large enough for two, with a salad to start. 

All dinner entrees are larger than a body can consume, but, that's not a complaint from me.  To clarify, I will grouse to high heaven about over-sized portions of fish or seafood, they don't reheat well.  Trust me, you will only stick fish in a microwave one time, unless your olfactory senses are on the fritz.  Reheating beef, chicken or pork?  Put that mess in a box, preferably eco-friendly and non-polystyrene and I will gladly tote it to home.  Diced entrana, veggies and potatoes, when added to slightly carmelized diced onion and then scrambled in egg makes a stupendous breakfast.  Tonight, I make a fritatta out of the last remains, or a tortilla (Spanish version). 

My skirt steak was perfectly medium rare, as ordered and had the perfect smattering of sauce on top.  The tangy chimichurri is a perfect complement to the buttery richness of the beef.  The grilled vegetables and roasted potatoes were also perfect.  Soft potatoes with a slight crunch on the outside and al dente, well-seasoned vegetables in thick slices.  I did not have dessert, in fact, I brought slightly over half of my entree home with me.  The Milanesa filled the entire plate with potatos carefully perched around the edges.  Again, I wasn't badgering for bites and nibbles, however, my friends raved.  The tweenager we had with us said the chicken was the best, ever (he cleaned his plate completely). Now that I have found them, I'll be lunching there as well, as my office is close.

Saldivia's South American Grill
10234 Westheimer (just inside the Beltway @ Seagler Rd.)
Open for lunch until 3:00 p.m. Monday - Friday.
Open for dinner Tues - Sunday until 9:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday

Bottom line:  The pricing is moderate, portions are large enough to share and the wine list boasts reasonably priced wines of good quality, primarily sourced from Chile and Argentina.  The House Red is a perfect compliment for the beef and is sold by the glass. They are tucked back in a strip center, so you need to watch for the typical Houston signage, large and lit-up.  The space is inviting and the waitstaff were friendly and very accomodating.  The owner was making rounds in the dining room to ensure that everyone was well taken cared of, which is a nice touch.  The only drawback was slight understaffing, which caused some wait on our part.  However, it was not enough of a wait for anyone to get grumbly.  I will absolutely be back for more.  I may have to see if they still sell the Chimi Churri to go, it's that delicious.

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