We forgot to make reservations for Valentine’s dinner at a nice restaurant. The ones we called at the last minute were all booked, so we just decided to wander around San Telmo looking for a nice place. We ended up at the restaurant of the Casal de Catalunya and it turned out to be a very nice evening.

We’ve noticed this building several times, located at Chacabuco 855. It’s the cultural center for the Catalan community in Buenos Aires. The interior of the building is very nice and architectural buffs should definitely visit it. From the glass front doors the restaurant isn’t visible and you have to ring the buzzer to let the staff know that you are there. Momentarily, a waiter will come to the door and walk you back to the restaurant. Just before the restaurant is a nice bar and a large, spiral staircase. Take a moment to look up at the winding stairs and you will see a beautiful stained glass window in the ceiling.

The tables in the restaurant are spread apart, giving everyone enough room for privacy and a long, relaxing meal. The waitress told us that the restaurant has just re-opened after being closed for many years. In celebration of their re-opening, they have a set menu with a per person price of $38 pesos that lasts until March 3. The regular menu is also available as an option. San Felipe wines are featured heavily in the menu.

For the $38 pesos per person, which includes table service, you get an opening glass of San Felipe extra brut, choice of appetizers, entree, dessert, a bottle of San Felipe wine, and a closing shot of San Felipe Roble Tardio.

For appetizers we got the hongos and the jamón serrano. For the entree, Ceci got the salmon with grilled vegetables and I got the arroz negro with chipirones. I would have preferred more calamari with mine but it was still very good. Midway through, we exchanged plates and also can say that the salmon and vegetables were very good, too. Finally, we both had crema catalana quemada for dessert.

I’m not a great culinary expert and don’t get too excited about any restaurant. The neighborhood parrilla is normally fine with me, but I enjoyed dining at Casal de Catalunya. I recommend it for when you’re in San Telmo and want to avoid the more touristy restaurants.

And, again, the building itself is quite a gem. The building also features the Teatro Margarita Xirgu. We didn’t actually get to see the inside of the theater but I suspect it’s a nice place to see a performance.