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Boca Raton needed another Argentine steakhouse.
At least that’s what Argentines Fernando Chaganek and Diego Feldberg thought. So the two business partners snapped up a former Denny’s space and scraped everything down to the building’s bones, refurbishing it as the tony La Rural Argentine Steakhouse Boca Raton.
Quietly opening in June, the gastronomic gamble seems to be paying off.
“My guess is that we were right because people come back several times and they let us know that we have great service,” Feldberg says. “We thought it was very nice location for our [restaurant] because there was nothing similar to an Argentine steakhouse, as we understand the steakhouse.”
Then he adds, “A lot of people told us, ‘Wow. You have nothing to do with Denny’s.’ ”
“We sell the same meat that we offer our customers in the restaurant,” Chaganek says. “All the meat that we offer is prime [cuts]. Most of them are Argentine cuts, like the short ribs, like the flap meat, like the top sirloin. And we also have the cowboy, the tomahawk, from the U.S.”
Next to the butcher counter is a case with take-home meals including empanadas, sauces, scratch-made pastas and gnocchi, ham and chese sandwiches with layers of thinly-sliced bread and beer emblazoned with late-great Argentinian soccer superstar Diego Maradona’s image (and billed as “Made in the U.S., but by Argentine hands”).
On the shelves are teas, jams, cookies, truffles and other products including some imported from Italy and Spain.
Feldberg says, so far, the most popular cuts of meat from the menu are the tomahawk ($110) and the skirt steak ($44).
“The tomahawk is a combination of the perfect prime meat and the perfect cook. It’s mouthwatering. It’s tender and very tasty,” he says.
“I love our skirt steak. Particularly if you know that it is a very difficult meat to cook, if not done perfectly it is [tough]. But when it is done perfect, the steak is great.”
Chaganek adds that with the skirt steak, “I always recommend medium or medium rare. The flavor is better.”
He also says that his other favorite is the short ribs ($29), “with the bone and a little bit of fat and the meat. So the combination of the bone, fat and meat is really very, very good. It’s amazing.”
There is also a showstopper shared plate/appetizer, the picada, which is the Argentinian version of a Italian antipasto and the Spanish tapas. On La Rural’s menu it is called a Tablita La Rural ($19).
“You put all the meat and different appetizers on the barbecue and then put them together on the table and serve … like a family style,” explains Chaganek. “It’s amazing. You have the sweetbreads, our chinchulines [tripe], blood and sausages, salchicha parrillera [pinwheel sausages], red pepper with mozzarella, all on a big plate on your table. The presentation is incredible.”
- The other appetizers/shared plates include everything from Argentine empanadas for $5 and grilled pinwheel sausage for $9 to beef carpaccio for $16 and a charcuterie board for $22.
- Salads range from $14 for a Caesar salad to $24 for La Rural Salad (a ribeye, New York strip, skirt steak or flap meat served on a bed of mixed greens and grilled vegetables).
- Milanesas (a Latin American take on a breaded cutlet cotoletta or a schnitzel) are $23 and $24.
- Pasta dishes include ravioli, gnocchi and cannelloni for $20 each as well as fettuccini with grilled chicken for $18 and lobster ravioli for $24.
- The house specials include the chef’s seabass for $45, the surf and turf for $80, the big cowboy (bone-in ribeye) for $87 and the tomahawk for $110.
- The entrees include a salad and a side dish (French fries, white rice, Russian salad, vegetables, mashed potatoes, etc) and range in price from a grilled chicken breast for $24 to a filet mignon wrapped in bacon with a mushroom sauce for $44.
- Desserts range from the crepe with dulce de leche or the tartufo for $8 each to the Malbec poached pears for $13 and the La Rural Dessert for $19 (a flan and a crepe, both with dulce de leche as well as a petit gâteau or chocotorta).
- The lunch menu includes burgers for $15 and sandwiches for $13. The lunch specials are $16 and come with a side dish and a flan or dulce de leche crepe for dessert. Those specials can include a spinach cannelloni, spinach tart, chicken or steal Milanese, grilled chicken breast, 8 ounce NY Strip/flap meat/or top sirloin cap.
From Buenos Aires to Boca Raton
Both men come from the catering/special event side of the food and beverage business (Feldberg was president of the Argentinian Association of Events).
In Buenos Aires, they had worked together in a company that not only staged major events for corporations, but also ran their travel incentive packages to reward employees and customers.
Now Feldberg goes back and forth monthly and has plans to move here with his family, including his wife Dr. Silvina Feldberg and their three children at home and two sons studying in New York.
Chaganek already lives in Boca Raton, near Mizner Park with his wife, Debora, and their 20-year-old daughter Delfina, who both work in La Rural. The Chaganeks have two more daughters in Argentina.
“Argentina is going a little bit bad with economic and social aspects. You can lose your … investment,” he says, his fingers fluttering upward as if mimicking evaporation.
So now with work visas, they consulted with La Rural Weston, a restaurant that has been in business for more than 20 years. (”In Weston there are a lot of Argentines and Venezuelans,” adds Chaganek.)
They learned the business from the Weston location, including how Americans like certain dishes prepared. But other than the name, there is no overlap between the two eateries.
“They are two restaurants with same name, but different business owners,” explains Feldberg. “They are two separate restaurants.”
Both say that they focus on service, which is an often overlooked quality here Stateside in Argentine steakhouses. Back home, steakhouses often inspire great loyalty over the years.
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“The service for us is almost everything,” says Feldberg. “How can I explain? We want to be very close to our client.”
Chaganek agrees. “The service is so important. We trust in this concept. And we try to give Boca Raton all our experience.
“I really appreciate the people. The people come here are always smiling. I’m surprised how nice the people are here in Boca Raton; I’m talking Americans, Colombians, Venezuelans or whatever. Americans are really good people.”
La Rural is at 3249 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
- 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays
- 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays
For reservations or more information, call 561-717-6163 or go to: