When we learned that our friend Jenn was coming to visit for our last 10 days in BA, we decided a perfect way to celebrate would be by taking her to a closed door restaurant! Jenn’s very into food, so what better experience than this uniquely Buenos Aires phenomenon. One closed door that kept popping up on my radar was Casa Saltshaker: the closed door restaurant in home of food blogger Dan Perlman (aka Saltshaker).
Dan’s home—Casa Saltshaker—in Recoleta is beautiful. Dim lighting, low ceilings, bookshelves filled with books and a large number of wine bottles make it a lovely space. Dan opens his home to 10 people, three days a week, for a 5-course meal, making it much more like an intimate dinner party with interesting strangers than either Casa Mun or Cocina Sunae. (Casa Mun feels like a very large dinner party—three tables of ten—and Cocina Sunae is run like a restaurant.) Casa Saltshaker is actually a dinner party in Dan’s dining room, which is what we expected a closed door restaurant to feel like, so he gets bonus points for that!
The demographic at Casa Saltshaker was very different than that at Casa Mun. Each guest at Casa Saltshaker was a traveller or a short-term expat. It was also an older demographic. That being said, I’ve come to realize that the kinds of people that end up at closed door restaurants are very interesting. And I loved the older demographic—so many interesting stories.
Dan himself is an excellent host, he explains each dish and wine pairing in the perfect amount of detail, and he is happy to share interesting stories about life in Argentina.
Unfortunately, I found food at Casa Saltshaker a bit disappointing.
- Stuffed peppers with potatoes, pancetta and shallots. The flavours in the first dish were quite tasty, and I enjoyed the sparkling wine pairing (Schroeder Rose de los Vientos).
- Tomato soup with white eggplant and chickpeas. The flavours in the soup were … good. But that’s it. Just good. There was not a lot of depth to this soup. It was paired with a Graffinga Pinto Grigio Reserva. A nice, if simple, white.
- Semolina gnocchi with mushrooms. This dish that quite tasty, restaurant quality, in fact—the homemade gnocchi was delicious, the mushrooms were a taste for lonely tastebuds (there aren’t mushrooms in Argentine cuisine) and it was paired with a tasty Syrah Rose from Las Moras.
- Lamb and pork terrine, with a cauliflower puree. While I loved the delicious puree [ed. Jenn's favourite component, all night], I found that the terrine lacked depth and was a bit too dry. Once again, it was just good. This dish was paired with my favourite wine of the night, a 2009 Don David Syrah.
- Oreo’s centenary. The dessert (an alfajor-like concoction of two chocolate cakes(?) cookies(?) with a vanilla fudge inside and roasted strawberries) was intended to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the oreo. My mom told me if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. So I’ll leave it at that. The dessert wine, on the other hand, was one of very few dessert wines I actually enjoy. It was a 2009 Late Harvest San Felipe.
The Bottom Line
Casa Saltshaker, three days a week, by reservation only, cash or paypal. 5 course dinner with wine pairings, 230 pesos (55 USD).
Whether or not I would recommend Casa Saltshaker would really depend on who I was recommending it to. A foodie? No. Someone less interested in food, but wanting a unique (and fun!) experience with good wine, a dinner, and the chance to meet some very interesting people? Probably. But if you only had one opportunity to go to a closed door restaurant, I’d hit up Casa Mun.