Spring in Spring

2008.Oct.25 Saturday · 5 comments

in Restaurants

 It’s spring fever…. You don’t quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”

– Mark Twain, author

Buenos Aires – No question, spring has sprung in these parts. And what better place to stop off for lunch on a beautiful spring day in Palermo than Spring, J.L. Borges 2284 Bulnes 2577 [new location], Guatemala 4452 [and moved again], a spot I’ve passed by many a times and noted the sign for comida vegetariana, and said to myself, “one of these days I have to get back here and check it out.” And, so I did. It’s a large space, very plain, and, upon entering, I realized it was a tenedor libre, an all you can eat buffet, with a Chinese, or at least Asian, bent. Of course, a buffet calls out to my deepest roots, right into the genetic material of my being, and given that I’m trying to shed a few pounds plus lower a bit of that cholesterol stuff, a vegetarian version seems the better option.

Spring - selection from the salad bar
I’ll tell you up front, the cold section, more or less the “salad bar”, is the best part here. The selection of different fresh vegetables, premade salads, dressings, and, to the side, a pair of daily soups, is among the best I’ve seen in town. You can see I wasn’t shy about picking out a good range to try out – and there at 10 o’clock on the plate was a little salad of smoked tofu and peanuts in a smoky sweet soy based sauce was not only a standout for the salad bar at Spring, but one of the most interesting tofu dishes I think I’ve ever had. I could have just eaten a plate of that.

Spring - selection from the hot dishes
They’re a little less successful in the hot section, which first of all isn’t all that hot – the line is setup weirdly, with the front row of trays directly over the steam and keeping hot, but the back row, more or less balanced on the edge of the counter, and really not much warmer than room temperature. There’s also a preponderance of cream sauce and cheese covered dishes, in fact very few that weren’t one of the two, which won’t sit well with the vegan set, and perhaps gives lie to their claim that all their food is wonderfully healthy. Still, I found the vegetable filled dumplings to be quite good, and the sweet and sour tempeh was actually excellent. The broccoli with cheese wasn’t bad, but not all that interesting – I pretty much ignored all the rest.

I think, other than perhaps the tempeh dish, I’d stick with the cold dishes, unless something in particular caught my eye one day – and I will be back, because for a mere 20 pesos at lunch, it’s a great deal in a city that’s starting to get expensive these days. And the dishes do change – or at least that’s the claim – 80 selections that change throughout the course of the day – and better quality than most of the Chinese all you can eat places I’ve checked out in town.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Evie Abat October 26, 2008 at 08:09

Yay! I have been working through a box of chocolates from Bariloche. This will come in handy for my calorie cut-back this week. Thanks for the scoop, Dan!

Ken Sternberg October 27, 2008 at 00:44

How expensive is BA now? The exchange rate has not changed much. Are businesses simply charging a lot more? Has inflation been a problem?

dan October 27, 2008 at 10:20

Well, six years of 30-35% annual inflation has certainly raised prices, initially quite slowly, but it’s picking up steam as that compounds. Examples – when I first moved here in July 2005, a simple empanada was generally a peso, sometimes less, now they’re regularly 3 to 4 pesos apiece. Going out to our neigborhood parrilla for a mixed grill for two cost 15 pesos, it’s now 32 at the same spot. I could regularly eat lunch out on my wanders for 5-10 pesos, or at a nice place for up to, say 25 – now, a menu ejecutivo even at the cheapest dive is 10 or more, and at nicer places lunch can cost 60 and up.

Also, while the exchange rate held quite steady at right around 3:1 for the last several years, it no longer is – it’s been creeping up slowly, it’s now about 3.25:1, but fluctuates wildly, I’ve seen it as high as 3.6:1 on some days – the prediction here is 4:1 within the next year as the government stops artificially supporting the peso. That’s good for visitors, not so good for those who live here.

On the flip side, Argentina has decided, effective January 1st, to start charging a “reciprocity fee” (a thinly veiled excuse for a visa fee in an economic climate that needs all the tourist dollars they can draw – and a real upset to anyone who deals with tourism) of US$135 in order to enter the country (which is what the US started charging Argentines a few years ago with the advent of “Homeland Security” in order to enter).

Logically understandable, but they’re shooting themselves in the foot for a short term, very small gain on revenues that go straight into government coffers. There’s a whole “they’re doing it to us so we’re going to do it to them” attitude coupled with “there are millions of tourists coming, if we can get $135 out of each of them…” without stopping to think about what sort of effect adding that fee on will have for many tourists (as some folks have said on various travel forums – “I’m traveling with my wife and kids, all of the sudden our travel costs just went up $500 (or more) – we’re thinking about going some where else). On the other hand, Chile and Brasil have been charging reciprocity fees nearly since the advent of the US’ policy, without major dropoffs in tourism – so who knows?

Mwalimu August 22, 2012 at 21:16

We stumbled on Spring a few months back. What a revelation! The owners are from Taiwan, and a good portion of the food on offer is classic Taiwanese style Vegetarian Buffet food, among the Taiwanese dishes, lots of emphasis on dishes that look and taste like meat, but are not. Having lived in Taiwan for 12 years, this kind of food is right up my alley, my girlfriend is Argentine, not so into the Taiwanese food, but there’s also a great selection of classic Argentine (veggie) comfort foods – pastas, pizzas, the great salad bar, so it works well for both our tastes. The deserts are good, too. Being a vegetarian I have been mourning the loss of Siempre Verde in Barrio Chino, a Saltshaker reviewed Chinese veggie restaurant (also Taiwanese managed), which is defunct. Great to see these Taiwanese owned and operated veggie buffets proliferating around the city. Here in Las Canitas, where we live, there are now two of them.

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