What: A low key but professionally run Argentine restaurant in a fairly out-of-the-way part of Southwark. Chimis is a grill restaurant first and foremost with most dishes cooked on an impressive looking parrilla, which takes pride of place in the 44-cover restaurant’s open kitchen.
Who: Chimis is the first restaurant from Nicolas Modad and Federico Fugazza. The pair struck up a friendship while working at Borough Market where Fugazza founded Porteña, an Argentine street food stall. Modad, meanwhile, was a head chef for the Brindisa restaurant chain. Together with Mijal Lasus, who now helps to manage the restaurant, the Argentine-born duo were regulars at Southwark Chilean restaurant El Vergel, which is now home to Chimis following the retirement of the owner.
The vibe: The space has a simple design with bench seating, exposed ventilation, industrial lamps and slate coloured walls. A dive bar-esque neon ‘Chimis’ sign reinforces the casual nature of the venture, as does the South American rock music on the stereo (if you like foreign language Pearl Jam covers, Chimis is a must). The restaurant is already a hit with Argentine expats hungry for a taste of home.
The food: The venue may be casual, but Modad knows his way around a grill. His menu is hearty and meaty with a focus on steaks and high quality sausages. The Argentine-style chorizo is a revelation. It’s less spicy than the more familiar Spanish version, offering a satisfying hit of high quality pork kissed with a little smoke from the grill. Another signature grilled dish is mollejas (sweetbreads), which are served with an acidic and fragrant chimichurri sauce. Other key dishes include homemade empanadas, and grilled octopus with stuffed polenta, served with smoked paprika and salsa criolla. There is a short wine list focused on Argentine and Uruguayan wines.
Grilled sweetbreads (mollejas) and Argentine-style chorizo and black pudding with homemade fries
And another thing: Argentine cuisine is heavily influenced by Spain but an influx of Italian immigration in the 20th century has seen pasta become a staple food. Both the founders have Italian heritage, and it shines through in a plate of homemade spinach and ricotta ravioli with silky mushroom sauce.