Las Vacas Gordas: Luis Gajer on Entrails and Sharing Charges
|Photo by Riki Altman|
|Gajer got long tables so couples could sit side-by-side and share lengthy skirt steaks.|
New Times: I noticed you have items like blood sausage, entrails, and sweetbreads on your menu. Do your regular patrons go for those selections?
Luis Gajer: You have to be used to this level of flavors. It's traditional food. We eat those as appetizers.
Your prices seem fair overall, but certainly many people can't finish these portions. Do a lot of people split a meal? Your $5 sharing charge seems rather steep.
It's a matter of common sense. It's not all the time that we charge for sharing. But when people are abusive... Listen, if you order anything from the menu that costs at least $5 we don't charge for sharing.
We started to do half portions of certain things but... a little piece of skirt steak doesn't impress anyone.
Why did you name the restaurant "Las Vacas Gordas?"
It means "fat cows." It's an expression about a beautiful era, of abundance and richness, people refer to the "Era of the Fat Cows." The portions are big, relating to the name.
I noticed this bottle of Malbec has your logo on it.
For many years we've had our own wine. We used to make our wines in Spain. Now they are from Argentina. I didn't know anything about wines.
How many diners would you say drink wine with their meal at your restaurant?
Ninety-five percent. The American clientele prefers to go with American wines or Chilean.
What sides should someone order if it's his or her first time here?
The papas fritas. We peel them and we cut them. Or our red peppers from the grill. Very natural. In Argentina we eat salads with the steaks. Our typical salad is lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.
Meaning, a forkful would have vegetables and meat?
Yes. We bring the salad with the steak. If you want it first you have to ask. We eat fish as an appetizer.
What's the secret to making the perfect steak?
We cook with heat. The fire doesn't reach the steak. We use a custom-made grill from California.
Do you marinate the meat first?
No we don't. The only thing we put on the steaks is salt. A large grain. The only thing we marinate is our boneless chicken breast in white wine, paprika, garlic, and a couple of other things.
Any future plans for a second site or another location?
You can never say never. Every night I get a different offer.
What advice would you give someone planning to open their first restaurant?
You better be prepared to marry the business. You're not only working the hours you are open. It's a 24-hour job.
How often do you eat red meat?
Ever thought of becoming a vegetarian?
The restaurant's recipe for skirt steak only consists of two ingredients--steak and salt--so we got you the quick mix for pincho de camarones, instead. Look for it Tuesday.