An evening at El Querandí stimulates every sense in an environment that is as welcoming as it is extravagant. Politely welcomed to the restaurant by staff in full tuxedo and formal dress, one feels completely transported to the 1920s underneath the stylish chandeliers and surrounded by the dark cedar woods that line the walls.
The evenings that take place on Fridays and Saturday comprise of a meal and tango show, including drinks at US$100. Although this seems like it may be somewhat steep for those on a budget, it is the perfect evening to celebrate a special occasion and combats heavily the larger tango shows well by creating an intimate and exquisite atmosphere for the spectator.
The multi-lingual staff are courteous and cater for your every need and make you feel immediately at home with a glass of champagne or wine. The food was of a very high quality and the a la carte menu has a selection of dishes to cater for everyone. To start, I tried the refreshing mozzarella capresse with fresh tomatoes that were glazed in an earthy olive oil dressing, which I would highly recommend before attempting the famous Argentine red meats. For main courses there is a selection of pasta, fish and meat dishes, which were cooked to perfection. I enjoyed the Don Alvaro tenderloin, which was served with Spanish potatoes in a fine herb sauce. To finish, I chose the chocolate mousse which was very sweet and light. All dishes were elegantly presented and were served promptly with the right amount of time between each course; long enough for you to savour the delights of the previous plate but not too long that you were left waiting hungry.The highlight of the evening by far was the tango show. El Querandí presents the spectator with a short multimedia presentation of the evolution and parody of tango with film reels of Charlie Chaplin, Rodolfo Valentino and Laurel and Hardy, then paying homage to “the most authentic Argentine expression” with their own passionate performances. Their show makes reference to different styles of the dance and different moments in Argentine history and culture. The audience are exposed to the dance’s origins through its evolution into Cabaret, the Milonga and Modernismo.
With images of the mass immigration that took place in Buenos Aires at the beginning of the twentieth century, El Querandí customers are exposed to emotional themes of nostalgia, love and passion, betrayal and hearts divided. The cast at El Querandí use these historical bearings in the Argentine memory as a compass for the audience to use as an emotive guide through the nuances of their art form. During the exposition of Cabaret tango, the story of a young woman, uprooted from the Old World is told through the passionate dance. She is deceived and forced to prostitute herself, all the time missing her homeland. Other stories told through the dance feature the woman ensnared and transformed by the lust of Buenos Aires, which tragically ends in her demise at the hands of her partner, exposing the traditional machismo attitude that permeates the culture.
The myth of Carlos Gardel is also signified through the inclusion of sung tango by wonderful singers that help to break up the dance routines, providing the audience with variety as well as introducing them to the different forms of tango. The show is also performed alongside four musicians, who each have their solos to demonstrate the power of each individual instrument and its contribution to the storytelling of the tango show.
El Querandí is a truly wonderful experience to behold in Buenos Aires and cannot come more highly recommended. Although some may see it as an expensive indulgence, it is a brilliant opportunity to absorb some of the great Argentine culture that remains untouched and preserved on this quiet corner of Monserrat.