This New Argentinian Grill Is Serving Up Some Splendidly OTT Steak
We're mildly furious about Chimis.
Where were you, raw-bricked, low-lit bodega, three years ago?
Three years ago we were working on Blackfriars Road. At the time the vibe on that stretch of Southwark was office block grey, and Sainsbury's Local was both the high and low of our food scene. Flat Iron Square was barely a twinkle in Bankside's eye. Borough Market wasn't in lunchbreak distance, not really. After work we'd strong-arm ourselves into a square foot of space at the Young Vic's Cut bar.
El Vergel was a friendly Chilean restaurant in a difficult space, one that looked like it should be home to an under-office Costa and always felt just a bit emptier than it should be. El Vergel made it into the lunchbreak and after-work rotation a couple of times, just because it was there.
Now some alchemy (via ex-Brindisa Nicholas Modad and Borough stall-holder Federico Fugazza) has reworked El Vergel into Chimis — a smaller, cosier Argentinian parrilla that smells of charcoal-grilling and thrums with voices and the sound of meat sizzling.
The menu's full of traditional Argentinian dishes, ingredients like provolone cheese, roasted peppers, charcoal-grilled beef and a forest-green chimichurri sauce cropping up again and again in different combinations.
Our empanadas — one spinach-stuffed, one chicken — are both solid comfort food options, flaky-pastried and piping hot. Our lamb cutlets are smokily good after we cover them in chimichurri sauce, though on the dry side without it.
And our Milanesa Napolitana main course is a force to be reckoned with, a slab of beef, grilled and topped with ham, melted mozzarella and tomatoes.
Like a pizza, if the base were made of beef. Please take a moment to admire the fact that this wasn't even the most madly exuberant Milanesa on offer. That honour goes to the Milanesa Speciale, topped with all of the above plus caramelised onions, blue cheese, peppers, olives and a fried egg for good measure.
And while Chimis is good at the big stuff — the Milanesa's heavily, decadently delicious — it's the smaller things that'd bring us back. That chimichurri sauce, singing with flavour, or the tomato and oregano side order — a generous bowl of tiny, sweet tomatoes drenched in green oil.
Maybe it's a good thing this wasn't here when we used to work round the corner. If Chimis had existed back then — Chimis as it is today, all Argentine beers and lunatic slabs of meat, and hot flurries of empanadas following one after the other — you'd rarely have pried us out.
Chimichurris, 132 Southwark Bridge Road, SE1 0DG.
Last Updated 21 March 2018