After our wonderful trip to Patagonia, my wife Jun and I returned to Buenos Aires. We had one last night to spend in the city so I needed to figure out where to dine. Buenos Aires has no shortage of restaurants worth visiting but one restaurant that caught my eye was Proper, which was only five minutes away from the hotel we were staying at. I was certainly intrigued by the setting of the restaurant, located inside what was formerly a mechanic’s workshop to supposedly give that Brooklyn-like industrial vibe, with most of the dishes coming from the giant oven at the kitchen. While I heard the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, knowing that Argentinians tend to have dinner pretty late, I didn’t think we would need to wait for a table. How wrong I was! When we got to the restaurant, there was already a huge line of both locals and tourists waiting for the door to open. When the restaurant finally opened, we couldn’t slide into the first group and therefore had to wait over 90 minutes. Unlike New York City where you can leave your name down for text message, you actually have to be physically present at the entrance or risk losing your spot. Many of the people who were waitlisted stuck around near the entrance, ordering a glass of wine or a bottle of beer to socialize with their companions. I guess that’s the charm of dining experience in Argentina; for impatient New Yorkers like Jun (who was already not feeling well after she got back from Ushuaia) and I, the wait was quite a painful experience. So was Proper worth all that trouble?
There is no denying that the food at Proper is quite good. Due to the aforementioned oven, many of the kitchens coming out from the kitchen have attractively smoky flavor. For appetizer, the roasted beans puree with sesame and fried fruits was a good dish to start, particularly as spread for sourdough bread you have to separately order. The shishito peppers with salt flower were also decent. My favorite dish at Proper was definitely the pork flank with onion, preserved lemon and spring onion. The texture of the pork was impeccable and the flavor was not too juiced up. The meat was even better, however, thanks to the side dish that we ordered. At the time of our meal, I couldn’t think of a combo as good as the pork flank with tomatoes (with extra virgin olive oil, burnt onion and oregano on top); the citrusy flavor of the tomato worked beautifully with the smoky pork that I felt bad that Jun was not able to enjoy this because of her condition.
Having talked about all the delicious dishes coming from the restaurant, in my mind the waiting experience at Proper still weighed on our experience. I really wished there were a reservation system at the restaurant that could’ve saved our trouble. If we were twenty-somethings who had all the energy in the world, we might’ve been able to take the waiting experience better, but we had recently made a pact that we will not kill ourselves over waiting for unbearable amount of time at a restaurant. The wine list at Proper is another strength at the restaurant, with a bottle of Malbec from Mendoza that nicely complemented the pork I mentioned above. The dark, industrial décor of the restaurant is another charming element of the dining experience here, although the noise could get a little out of control during the peak hours. Proper has a lot of elements that Jun and I would’ve normally liked, but it also confirmed that comfort has increasingly become a key element in our dining experience these days. I recommend checking out the restaurant if you are willing to risk potentially long wait time if you don’t get there 30 minutes before its opening.
KenScale: 8.25/10 (Jun’s Score: Incomplete)
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 7.5/10
Address: Aráoz 1676, C1414 CABA, Buenos Aires, Argentina