You may have guessed it from our name, but our inspiration is Buenos Aires, and the cafés and restaurants that we knew when we were growing up – both traditional wood-panelled places, peopled by the black-aproned waiters who had worked there for years, and fabulous parillas where the meat was succulent and wine flowed freely. After years living in London, we were homesick for Buenos Aires and above all desperate for a good steak. So we decided to create our own place – somewhere you could hang out and relax with family and friends, where you could eat good quality, affordable food, and above all where you could find great steaks, pizza and pasta – just like we used to know at home.
Reinaldo Vargas spent years dancing and choreographing cabaret shows – in clubs, on cruise liners and in theatres and concert halls all over the world. He has danced with highly regarded international stars like Juan Carlos Copes y Maria Nieves, Anibal Troilo (Pichuco) and Helen Shapiro – and worked with none other than Demis Roussos and Michael Barrymore. Naturally his favourite genre was tango, which he danced with wife Kate all over the world. Later, dancing became more of strain and gave up his globetrotting lifestyle to settle in London, and had short stints as a dispatch rider and war correspondent, before making the most of his favourite hobby and becoming a paparazzo photographer, haunting the celeb-favoured restaurants and clubs of the West End in search of the perfect snap that would make his fortune. It was a tough life, but always interesting, and provided the perfect grounding for starting up a restaurant of his own in 2005. He’s a food-lover through-and-through, who built a barbecue the size of a small house in his back garden. His favourite Argie dish? It’s got to be meat, preferably prime fillet, cooked really rare, and served with a simple salad.
Kate Vargas worked in fashion and retail – mostly posh shops like Liberty, Gieves & Hawke and Fenwick – before throwing it all in to take to the road with husband Reinaldo on the global dance circuit. She still loves clothes, but decided she liked food even more, smartly developing it into a career when she opened the first Buenos Aires Café in Royal Hill in 2005. Then, as now, the motivation was to keep things simple, and bring high-quality produce to the table, and to this day the café serves great coffee, crisp, buttery croissants and other French pastries and fresh country–style bread, custom-made sandwiches filled with the best ingredients – thinly-sliced San Daniele ham, succulent buffalo mozzarella, piquant salami or grilled vegetables. When not at the restaurant, she spends her time at the stables with her beloved horse, Rocco. Her favourite dish in the restaurant? Pumpkin filled ravioli.
The most important thing to know about Martin Dunford is that he is Kate’s brother, and as such Buenos Aires is a proper family business. But he is also one of the founders and was for many years the Publisher of the Rough Guides series of travel guides. As a professional traveller and writer for over three decades, he has eaten in more restaurants than he can remember, and loves food and eating out, especially trying new cuisines in exotic places. Despite this, he can often be found seeking out the best places around Britain to stay, eat and drink, for his UK travel website, www.coolplaces.co.uk, which showcases the best of British travel. His fave dish? Gotta be the mixed grill, though like most people he has yet to finish one on his own.