Not So Buena Vista Social Club

2006.Nov.27 Monday · 1 comment

in Restaurants

“It all comes back to the basic. Serve customers the best-tasting food at a good value in a clean, comfortable restaurant, and they’ll keep coming back.”

– Dave Thomas, Founder of Wendy’s

Buenos Aires – Now, Dave Thomas may have been talking about a fast food hamburger chain, albeit a (small) step above much of the rest of the pack, but his quote actually resonated with me for today’s post. I’ve been hearing about this real “down to earth” and “cheap” place for months. I’m not sure why, but somehow I had it in my head that this was sort of a retro-trendy fashionista kind of place that just happened to be serving steaks and doing it for little money. Probably making up for it on cocktails…. While the food and cash part appealled to me, the ambiance didn’t. Let’s just say that I wasn’t even in the ballpark for the ambiance….

Grant from What’s Up Buenos Aires and I get together every month or two to talk about a new article for his website (so look for one soon – along with checking it out for other cool stuff to do in town). He suggested meeting up at Club Eros, Uriarte 1609, Palermo viejo, 4832-1313 (not that, as you’ll see in a moment, there’s any need for the phone number). I shouldn’t have been surprised, after all, Grant’s into all that hip, trendy, cool stuff to do. I agreed, and mentally sighed, envisioning having to sit about on low lounge sofas, surrounded by dozens of Gen-Xers in the latest designer gear and overhearing conversations about the new, hot dance clubs, who makes the best woo-woo shots, and being served a passable steak atop some plexiglass block… you get the picture. I mean, it’s across the street from Palermo’s temple of haute cuisine, Casa Cruz…

Now, erase that picture from your mind. I should have known better. Grant and I have never gone to one of those lounges – we go to places like Don Carlos or la cocina… “Club” Eros, is an old-fashioned, neighborhood, social and athletic club. It’s a gymnasium. Really. There are kids jumping rope, playing tag, running, screaming, girls sitting in the corner playing with dolls, boys in the corner tearing wings off of flies… I don’t know – it looked like recess at any school – with a mix of kids from late single digits to early teens. If you look off to the right of the main entrance halway, there’s a room with rickety wooden tables and chairs, and people are sitting their eating. Not the kids, it was mostly neighborhood guys, from their 20s to their 90s, hanging out, arguing about sports, and watching a bit of futbol on the t.v. mounted over the bar at one end of the room.

Club Eros - pork chops, steak, agnolotiAnd, they’re eating. They’re eating well too. After my initial doubletake, and the shock wore off, and realizing that despite there being about thirty tables in the place we were going to have to wait for one because they were all full (we waited in the area where parents wait and watch their kids playing in the gym…), I was ready. Our wait wasn’t long and we were soon sitting and checking out the menu – pretty much a choice of a milanesa, a steak, pork chops, or chicken, a couple of pastas, and fries. That’s it. No bottled water – coke, fanta orange, cheap wine or beer, all in big bottles. Whiskey if you want it. And it didn’t take long to have a selection in front of us – an excellent and good sized steak (6 pesos), two delicious large pork chops (7 pesos), and a plate of decent over-sized agnoloti (6 pesos). Plenty of food, we weren’t going hungry here. No frills, just meat or pasta on a scratched up old plate that’s probably been doing service for thirty years. Apparently the later you come, the fewer choices you have, as they simply run out of one item after the other. Three main courses, a bottle of soda, and a dessert and I think we hit 25 pesos…

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