Hugo Palacio is like a modern-day Midas, except that in his case it is everything to do with food that he touches that turns to gold and this is definitely true of his latest restaurant venture, the Eat Local Grill in ‘old town’ Ballito. That is where the similarity stops, though. The original King Midas was Greek and rumoured by Aristotle to have died of starvation. Hugo is Argentinian and his style of cooking and flair for quality food makes it a sure thing that no one, including himself, will ever starve.
The Eat Local Grill is an Argentinian-style grill house where then menu reads easily and emphasizes the grill house feel. You quickly feel relaxed in the modern, contemporary setting with its rich, homey vibe and lively atmosphere. The spacious patio, which is set to make summer afternoons a delight, leads you into the heart of the restaurant, which has a look and feel that you simply have to experience. The seating is spacious without losing the intimacy and ranges from small two-seaters to huge joined tables for large, boisterous parties.
The menu has great variety, but isn’t overwhelming — rather it showcases the fact that you’ve come to a grill house restaurant and that meat is the main attraction. There is good mix of starters and we’ve heard that the Chicken Livers have received rave reviews, as has the Roasted Veg Salad. We decided to skips starters on the night that we visited, however, and to just tuck into the mains.
The mains on the menu offer a good mix, including Hugo’s traditional wood-oven pizzas, delicious pastas and fresh seafood, but our table of three decided to stick to meat on our first visit and we weren’t disappointed. The Rib Eye Steak, served with a side mushroom sauce, was cooked to perfection and every bite melts in your mouth just like a great steak should. The Ribs come in two sizes, 600g and a hearty 1kg and there is no avoiding tucking in with your hands — it’s messy, but it’s just so worth it! The ribs are soft and meaty and are a great traditional dish in any steakhouse or grill. We also had the Argentinian-style Lamb Skewer, which tastes as good as it looks, served on a wooden board with traditional oven-flatbread topped with spices — and the generous portion of lamb chops made this a skewer of note. All our meals had the choice of fresh hand cut chips or veggies as sides, which topped-off the mains, making the portions really generous and filling.
Amongst the choice of desserts to wrap up your evening, is Freddo Ice Cream scooped straight out of an ice cream fridge into bowls. It’s a great experience in itself to head to the fridge and watch your ice cream being scooped for you — the Banana Split was a hit with us.
A visit to the Eat Local Grill is really a great night out and well worth the trip. Hugo has brought back some flair to Ballito’s ‘old town’ and we think that you’ll enjoy it as much as we did. Highly recommended!