The passion for Empanadas …made in Argentina

Nostalgia… it is felt strongly by a lot of us “transplants” that move to different countries or even a different state.When married with passion, dedication + culinary expertise turns into an artistic expression of food that is Ché.

On the spotlight, we spoke to the friendliest and most welcoming hosts
we’ve every met {which by the way is mirrored by the vibe of their restaurant and their staff}, Juan (proprietor) and Alfio (Chef/Proprietor) of Ché, describe their restaurant as founded by their sentimental ties and love for their home country with a Cincinnati twist.

L-R: Juan, Proprietor of Che; Alfio, Chef and Proprietor of Che

Ché is an AUTHENTIC Argentinian restaurant and bar located in Over the Rhine (OTR) in Cincinnati. A very rustic styled restaurant, decorated by Juan, modeled by his childhood spent enjoying the outdoors, riding horses and growing up in a farm, it was hard not to feel right at home. The two men, met over another love…football…specifically at a World Cup ’14 gathering at a bar in Kentucky. It was not hard to get caught up in their excitement for their restaurant and passion for Argentine cuisine particularly for EMPANADAS.

Chef Alfio and Juan, vividly described how lovely it was to grow up in Argentina, watching their grandma’s and moms cook amazing food. Their descriptions transported you to their country’s cuisine with Italian/Spanish influence and strong family ties.

Chef Alfio shares that Ché’s menu is built around the Argentinian food experience which he describes as very poetic in a sense– picture this, cooking outdoors on a slow-burning wood fire in the late afternoon, fresh meats and sausages, with family and friends, back dropped by a beautiful scenery and fresh air, so poetic that it sounds ROMANTIC.

So we asked the gentlemen, WHY EMPANADAS? The answer, Empanadas, can be simple {traditionally well known to be blue collar food for the rural population} but also versatile {served at parties in the metropolitan areas} These versatile bites, can be filled with ANY ingredient, fried or baked, convenient, hearty and very satisfyingly delicious.

Juan explains, that unlike Pizza, with Empanadas, you don’t have to be confined to a whole pie {that maybe} has 2 different sets of toppings and unless you order multiple pies you are not afforded the same variety as you would with empanadas.

At Ché, the Empanada selection touches on Argentine tradition as well as creative variations that Chef Alfio describes are more for those that have a more conservative palette. Being is the US has offered him a plethora of ingredients which allows him to push his creative boundaries for empanada fillings. He expressed his desire to explore other, more unique cuisines, like Filipino Adobo {YAYYY!!!!, Ann was in heaven}.

Think you have enough background story…we thought so too…now on with the tasting!

L-R: Korean BBQ, Tabasco Pork Belly, Spinach & Cheese, Steak, Feta Mushroom, Cuban

Korean BBQ –the mélange of sweet and savory notes keep you wanting to eat more. The grilled meaty notes were not overpowering and paired well with the sweet chili glaze.

Tabasco Pork Belly-eat this if you are a slight daredevil, the pork flavor envelopes you and after 3 bites your oral cavity is completely filled with a heat that makes you feel like a mini-dragon.

Spinach and Cheese- the experience of eating this is like the macarena wave; spinach-cheese-spinach-cheese. The combination of Mozeralla and Provolone, provide a creamy and savory richness like none other…move over spinach and cheese puffs!

Steak-this tender, juicy steak meets you with a nice spicy surprise at the end ..the combination of paprika and cumin gives a comforting heat.

Mushroom Feta– This delicate combination of well cooked mushrooms and mozzarella and feta offers a filling, yet complex rich empanada the make you want for more.

Cuban- People from the Caribbean love their ham {Luan can attest to this} and this can make a cold winter day warm your heart. The finite balance of saltiness of the pork and ham combined with some acidity from the pickle and an ever so tiny bit of sweetness makes this empanada dreamy…the dream of sitting on a beach with this and a cold beer.

Normally this would have been the end of our tasting…but we were surprised by more… fried empanadas!! We JUST had to stay and eat them

Buffalo Chicken– Mild, balanced flavor with a slight eruption of sourness augmented with a final spicy kick.

Caprese– Classic Italian salad spirit encased in an Argentine empanada “body.”

Short Braised Rib– Tender mouthwatering meat with a symphony of tomato, onions and peppers.

Onion and Cheese– At first thought you wonder how onions fit with an empanada. Then you taste the mellow brown caramelized notes of the onions and you know you will never look at caramelized onions the same.

All of these empanadas are accompanied with a sauces; traditional Chimichurri which is best described as Argentinian pesto. Salsa Criolla which is similar to a typical salsa but has a low acid vinegar kick that doesn’t linger and a Blue cheese dipping sauce. This dipping sauce has a creative twist. There is a roundness that exists due to the creamy notes from the cheese, the umami notes from the Worchestire sauce and tanginess from the red wine vinegar.

To top of everything..Tiffany, brought us some classic Caipirinha….GRACIAS!

Tiffany

Ché offers a dreamy yet realistic escape to one of the most cosmopolitan cities in South American. Ché is not just a restaurant..it is an ubiquitous extension of Juan and Alfio.

Trust us…you won’t leave disappointed!

cheers!!!

Ann & Lu

2 comments

  1. LOVE having Argentine restaurants in cincinnati!! I was born in Argentina and it’s wonderful being able to share the wonderful foods with my husband. My siblings LOVE coming to visit and we always HAVE to go to Ché, Alfio’s, or Butcher and Barrel!!! All favorites with us!!

    Liked by 1 person

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