Milonga Argentine Steakhouse
3005 University Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34243, (941) 358-3200
Cuisine: Argentine Steakhouse, “Romantic”
Price Rating: $15-$25 per entree
Review Date: March 10, 2012
My husband Tamas and I had the pleasure of reviewing Milonga Argentine Steakhouse on University Parkway in Sarasota this past weekend on Saturday night. These are the times when you realize that your “job” as a food blogger really has its perks.
We arrived at the restaurant at around 8 pm Saturday night. I’d be blatantly lying if I said this was our first time here. In fact, it’s our third time here in the past 3.5 weeks, and the first two were just because we liked it. So we show up to find a parking lot that could use a little more traffic, which doesn’t bother us so much because spots are easy to come by and I don’t have to wince along in my 4-inch heels that much. There is live music at this place tonight and they even have tango dancing every so often. There’s a nice ambiance from the entryway, as you’re greeted by the lovely hostesses, upscale decor, music and the smell of delicious food coming from the gourmet kitchen open in the back.
Our waitress was very friendly and sweet. We put in our drink order and were given our starter bread. At Milonga, they serve these little warm rolls with chimichurri sauce which is a traditional Argentine condiment used with bread and also served with steak. It’s usually made of parsley, garlic, olive oil and oregano but other spices can be added too. This reminds me of the plates of oil and herbs you get with your bread at Carrabba’s before a meal, but here it has a delicious Argentine twist. We opted to start with the Empanadas Al Horno as an appetizer to get an Argentine flavor right off the bat (read: good idea). These beef empanadas served two purposes: 1) they were just the right size to whet our appetites 2) they got our tastebuds in the mood for meat! Perfectly seasoned beef and a homemade flaky, buttery crust, they were just the thing to start us off. We have had the baked brie appetizer here before as well, and even though it’s not a traditional Argentine food, it’s made to perfection here too. Worst thing about these appetizers is that now we have to choose between the two next time we come.
Then, for entrees, I ordered the Skirt Steak and Tamas ordered the Short Ribs. They have fancy Argentine names on the menu, and not only did I not write them down like a dummy, but they don’t have a menu online that I could find. Whatever, this way you can just remember the English name and maybe it’ll even be easier that way.
I would love to say that I’ve been a dutiful little restaurant reviewer and ordered three different entrees each time I’ve come here for contrast but that would be a lie. I have gotten the skirt steak every single time and every single time it has been off-the-wall amazing. I always order my steaks medium rare because I like the thing to almost still be moo-ing when it gets to my table and here — it’s always cooked perfectly. Skirt steaks are usually marinated to aid with tenderness and this is definitely the case here. The taste that brings to the steak is to die for, and I just can’t get enough of that flavor. They must marinate in some sort of delicious oil because…wow. I got asparagus and mashed potatoes as sides and they were cooked just as I would like them at home. The potatoes were seasoned to give a delicious taste and creaminess and the asparagus was cooked just enough so as to be still a bit crisp and flavorful. I may or may not have also ordered the sides of grilled onions and mushrooms as well ($4 bucks a pop but totally worth it if you want to treat yourself), which I do every single time I order the skirt steak, and those were maybe the stars of the meal. That’s just not true, it’s all superb but the flavors altogether — OFF THE WALL. Sorry, I’m getting a little too excited, but when I love a meal, I can’t hold it in!
Tamas ordered the short ribs meal and got french fries and mixed vegetables as his sides. (Please note: the Argentine names for these meals are way sexier than the English ones). The short ribs were perfectly flavorful and cooked just right. The ribs had the really great texture but offered a different take than the usual treatment they get at a barbecue place. The veggies were cooked just right so as to be flavorful but not overcooked. But the french fries, sorry to say, were off tonight — they were dry in a really strange way and we concluded that this was just a fluke however, because the other two times, Tamas said they were really great. Also, it should be noted that although meat is their most popular/traditional dish, they have a lot of seafood and pasta options as well, so there is definitely something for everyone here.
One thing that I want to add is an overall impression of the entree food. It is impossible, at this restaurant, not to notice that all of the ingredients are super fresh and cooked to perfection. There is true attention to detail here and the meals are not overly pretentious. They are served in such a way as to bring out the true flavor of the foods. The menu was definitely planned and executed by a super talented chef who knows what he or she is doing.
Then comes dessert. If you thought I loved the entrees here, just wait until I tell you about the dessert. What I ordered the first two times is the “Alfajor de Maizena” which is like a shortbread and dulce de leche creme sandwich. I am just going to skip right to the end and tell you that this is my favorite dessert in the entire world. That’s right, I said it. Now, let’s backtrack.
What is dulce de leche? It’s a typical Latin dessert creme kind of thing. It’s made by cooking sweetened milk until the sugar in it caramelizes. Let’s have a moment of silence for that concept. Thank you.
The shortbread is perfect, and as I happen to be a real big shortbread fan, pairing the two is a no-brainer for me. However, this dessert is not for everyone. Many people probably wouldn’t want to divorce their husbands to marry it like me, but hey, more for yours truly. This time however, I ordered what’s called the Arrollado de Dulce de Leche. It’s this sponge-like cake rolled with dulce de leche with a layer of dark chocolate on top, and served with a scoop of ice cream and whipped cream. Both of the servers we have had said this was their favorite dessert, but I have to say that I was really not impressed with it. I mean, it’s okay, but when you put it next to the BEST DESSERT IN THE WORLD, it kinda gets lost. I’d say Tamas’ choice was right in the middle. He got the flan. I am not much of a flan fan (lol bahahaha) but this was yummy — all custard-y and creamy. Maybe it was because it’s topped with dulce de leche, but really, anything that includes that ingredient is automatically bumped up a notch.
The service at the end of the night took a bit longer than expected. The thing that we notice every time we come here more than anything else is the lack of traffic, so we figured we’d get our food a bit faster, but then again, it wasn’t the slowest ever. It reminded me more of being in France with the long, drawn out meals — really enjoying the time. There is a different kind of atmosphere at places like this, as opposed to your typical American joint.
All-in-all, I mean, I do not have any lukewarm feelings about this place. It’s all passion; I love it so much and I just want to see it succeed. The previous reviews from when Milonga first opened have deemed this place a disaster but since then there has been new management and therefore a huge change in the service and quality. The food is now absolutely first-rate and the atmosphere is very romantic and inviting. Please check this place out, they need your patronage!
Fantastic food in a truly romantic atmosphere; may be a bit pricey but worth every penny.