Lunch Therapy

2007.Jun.04 Monday · 4 comments

in Restaurants

“Let us call up the spectacle of a totem meal … The clan is celebrating the ceremonial occasion by the cruel slaughter of its totem animal and it is devouring it raw – blood, flesh and bones. Each man is conscious that he is performing an act forbidden to the individual and justifiable only through the participation of the whole clan… When the deed is done, the slaughtered animal is lamented and bewailed. The mourning is obligatory, imposed by dread of a threatened retribution. As Robertson Smith remarks of an analogous occasion, its chief purpose is to disclaim responsibility for the killing.”

– Sigmund Freud

Buenos Aires – Thankfully, our meal was not to include either slaughter, nor anything else graphically described above. Our food was already dead, cooked, and served to us in occasionally artistic manner. But, in advance, I had no idea what to expect – when one names a restaurant after the father of modern psychiatry, and then tacks one’s own name on, and hangs out a shingle, customers can’t be faulted for considering the possibilities. Now, it turns out that the owner of this restaurant was, or is, a “disciple” of Freud’s, so at the very least he felt himself entitled to the collaboration – perhaps he offers therapy sessions over coffee…? A quartet of us were ensconced in the oddly decorated salon that is Freud y Fahler, Gurruchaga 1750, 4833-2153, in Palermo Viejo, perhaps somewhat nervously looking forward to lunch. It didn’t help that the walls are painted more or less graffiti style with scribbles, strange drawings, odd recipes, and visions that look like an occasional mangled body part. One man’s art… [Closed sometime in 2009. Reopened nearby at Cabrera 5296, a year or so later as NCF&F (Nueva Casa Freud & Fahler)]

Freud y Fahler - cold tomato soupFreud y Fahler - squash soup
Soup is one of those items that seems to rarely occur on menus here in Buenos Aires. When it does, it can be occasion for celebration. Of course, that depends on the soup. These were tasty, but ordinary – a duo, one a cold tomato soup (it was a mere few degrees above freezing outside, and not significantly warmer inside, it wouldn’t have been my first choice to either offer or order); the other a thick squash soup. Both could have used a bit more seasoning, but for hearty, simple soups, performed well.

Freud y Fahler - warm brieFreud y Fahler - mesclun salad
The other options veered towards the world of salads – a warm, breadcrumb encrusted wedge of brie – not oozingly ripe, but neither was it immature – topped with slices of apple and a nicely dressed salad. For a complete green fix, a large mesclun salad, tossed with a light and tasty vinaigrette, and served with a side of poached egg, which would have benefited from being a bit less poached – runniness is a thing to be desired in un huevo poché, otherwise one may as well toss on a hard-boiled ovoid and be done with it. Winner of the appetizers, I’d say, was the brie.

Freud y Fahler - ravioli with sun dried tomatoesFreud y Fahler - spaghetti
On the main course side we continued on the trend of simple, honest food. Perhaps, actually, that’s the best way to sum up this whole restaurant… or at least most of it… certainly the food… it’s all good, and it’s all, well, regular. There’s no pizazz, no spark, no wow factor. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, unless you came expecting that – it’s just good, wholesome food that no one is likely to be unhappy to eat, and no one is likely to remember an hour later. Here we have some cheese filled ravioli with sun dried tomatoes and basil, a touch of ground walnuts in the cheese filling; on the right, spaghetti in butter with vegetables.

Freud y Fahler - chicken curryFreud y Fahler - milanesas
I guess I’d give points for a moderately interesting presentation to the dish on the left – described on the menu as lomo de pollo, you know, the loin of the chicken… that little strip you pull off the breast, sometimes called “chicken tenders” – here, breaded and fried… after being flavored with a touch of curry – chicken fingers atop a block of cous-cous – the latter strangely served refrigerator cold – and a bit of salad above. The other, well, the menu did just say milanesas de ternera – it didn’t quite specify it’d be a stack of them, unfinishable by one person, despite the meat in each being thinner than the crust – they were tender, reasonably tasty, and served with some buttered spaghetti on the side.

Freud y Fahler - dessertsFreud y Fahler - desserts
Desserts, much the same – a mini-creme brulee, a mini-dulce de leche custard, a mini-apple tart, and a mini-cranberry cupcake – the last would have been the best dessert had it actually been cooked through rather than left with uncooked batter in the center – as it was, I think the table consensus was that the dulce de leche custard was the best.

So, in the end, I suppose if lunch in the care of psychiatrists is supposed to return one to normalcy, some sort of average position, Freud y Fahler accomplish their goal.

Adam April 3, 2008 at 18:51

Had a completely different experience at this restaurant. None of the dishes appear even similar to what we had in March 2008. The restaurant was one of the most surprising finds in anywhere i’ve travled. The menu was creative with daring and winning combinations. Each item seemed to compare unique flavors, textures and ideas. The menu must have changed significantly since this review as the simple and rather mundane items referenced were no where to be found on the menu last month. The appetizer sampler was fantastic. We tried entrees including a decadent calabaza ravioli, steak with apples prepared 3 ways and mouth-watering lamb chops. The desserts were not only wildly creative, but were the cutting-edge finish to a truly exciting meal.

Hate to disagree, but we found Freud & Fahler to be one of the highlights of our visit to Buenos Aires!!!

dan April 3, 2008 at 21:56

Adam – You’re welcome to disagree – everyone has their own experiences and own opinions. It’s also possible that something has majorly changed – after all, it’s been 10 months since this review. At the time, they’d been closed for quite a few months for a complete overhaul (though honestly, looking around at the time, I’m not sure where the overhaul took place), and they were only about 6-8 weeks into being back up and running. So, who knows, maybe it took him some time to hit their stride again.

We certainly didn’t have a bad experience that would steer me away from ever going there again, so sounds like it might be time for a revisit.

Judit February 23, 2009 at 16:51

My experiences (I was lucky enough to have several of those) were similar to Adam’s. I actually stumbled upon this website now trying to find Freud y Fahler’s website so I can steal some ideas from their menu (not the milanesas but something more interesting as you’d guess, like salmon or basil ice cream…). I love that they have small portions, especially for desserts, because for one thing you do savour and appreciate it more if you cannot shovel huge spoonfuls of it in your mouth and secondly, it allows you to eat a delicious three course meal in such a way that you are not completely stuffed in the end but leave the place with a happy stomach and satisfied tastebuds. Freud y Fahler does this trick for me without “overdoing” it, without trying to create something so super-fancy that in the end you don’t really like it and it’s just a super small portion of a work of art sitting on your plate. Freud y Fahler was one of our favourites when we lived in Buenos Aires!

dan February 23, 2009 at 18:47

The interesting thing, Judit, is that we didn’t find them to be smaller, easily consumable portions, but rather unfinishably large quantities (other than the desserts), and nothing in particular to savor, not to mention some of them just not cooked well. Had there been something more interesting on the menu like the salmon or basil ice cream that you mention, we might have been quite excited – but there was absolutely nothing of the sort on the menu when we were there – it was, as I said, common, ordinary fare, well made, but neither exciting nor interesting. The four appetizers and four entrees we tried were each, as I recall, four out of five or six available – so this was pretty much the whole menu at that time. However, as I pointed out to Adam, he went there a good ten months after we did (which is now nearly two years ago), and, after the entire restaurant had been shut down for several months to be completely overhauled, including the menu. So it’s not suprising that things have changed. One of these days, perhaps we’ll go back and check it out again.

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