Tucked away on Martin Road at one end of the lifestyle enclave of Robertson Quay is boCHINche, an Argentinian tapa-style bar-restaurant run by the Spa Esprit Group that has recently undergone a minor revamp to its ‘industrial chic’ interior and menu – its first refresh since it opened in August last year. While the changes see the removal of a private dining space at the back, the addition of a small grocer section in the front and some additions to the menu, its drinks menu remains largely untouched.
boCHINche, which means ‘commotion’ in Spanish, runs a fully functional bar with a decent selection of cocktails that are meant to complement the restaurant’s tapas-style food.
There’s the Harvest Punch ($19, above), a fruity concoction that sees Pisco – a form of brandy generally made by Argentina’s South American neighbours of Peru and Chile – mixed with grape juice, orchard syrup and lime juice for a sweet and refreshing tipple. Otherwise you can try Spicy Lolita ($19), which blends a spiced vodka, raspberry Chambord, cranberry juice and ginger beer for a similar fruit-forward drink. For a spicy kick opt for the Chimichurri Bloody Mary ($22), the traditional hangover cure sexed up with the addition of chimichurri, a green Argentinian sauce normally eaten with grilled meat. And even better, a number of these cocktails are just $10 during weekend brunch.
But one does not open an Argentine restaurant – especially one that serves grilled beef steaks – and not carry Argentinian wines.
Thankfully boCHINche does a couple of notches better; aside from a handful of French champagnes, its wine menu is almost exclusively Argentinian – it sees a great representation from Argentina’s Mendoza region, the largest wine producing area in Latin America – home to hundreds of wineries – and considered as one of the world’s nine “Great Capitals of Wine”.
The South American country is getting lauded for its promising New World wines, but it’s also recognized as one of the very few wine producers that still produces Malbecs, especially after frost in the middle of last century wiped out much of that grape varietal in its native France. If you’re a fan of Malbecs, you might be happy to note that boCHINche carries around 11 different labels at varying price points, ranging from the rather affordable Kaiken Reserva 2011 ($65 a bottle) to the slightly more indulgent Bramare 2009 ($219 a bottle), both from Mendoza.
First introduced to Argentina in 1868 by a French agricultural engineer, the Malbec is today widely planted in Argentina – in Mendoza alone there are some 25,000 hectares in Mendoza planted with that grape varietal; it is also grown in the regions of La Rioja, Salta, San Juan, Catamarca and Buenos Aires.
As for food options, boCHINche’s tapas-style service means there are always plates perfect for sharing. Try especially its Salami Rustico & Finocchiona ($11), Iberico Lomo & Chorizo ($15), Iberico Shoulder, 30 months ($19) and Iberico Ham, 36 months ($23), all of which are good as a snack or a meaty prelude to dinner.
But if you’re hankering for something more substantive, you can always fall back to one of Argentine’s biggest exports and a main pillar of its culinary heritage – beef. Here at boCHINche you can splurge on the Bife Ancho Ribeye Steak ($55, 300g), Bife de Chorizo Sirloin Steak ($49, 300g), Lomo Beef Fillet ($78, 300g) or the Asado Grilled Flank Steak ($45, 300g), which all pair perfectly with a fuller-bodied Malbec.
And if you like the wines and cold cuts enough, the afore-mentioned new deli and grocer section carries a selection of cured meats, wines, and even bottled sauces and relishes that you can bring home.
boCHINche is located at 22 Martin Road, Level 2.