A World Apart

2009.May.07 Thursday · 7 comments

in Restaurants

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Cilantro - Austin Powers decor

Buenos Aires – Forget that it looks like you’ve just stepped onto the set of an Austin Powers movie. Forget that you are surrounded by strip clubs and telos. Just relax and let the folks at Cilantro, Anchorena 1122, 4966-2941, in Recoleta, serve you up some fun and really quite good pan-Asian cooking. Truly, upon setting foot in this bizarrely decorated space on a block devoid of any charm, I didn’t expect we’d have a good meal. Thank goodness for the surprise factor.

Cilantro - asian style chicken wings

Try to ignore the red light. Cameras don’t take good photos in red light, something which this space has in abundance. I suppose it’s good for your night vision. So I had to work these photos more than a hooker at a bar and her “date”. We started off with a plate of a dozen plus mildly spicy chicken wings. These aren’t buffalo wings, but they’re meaty and tasty, and I’d have been happy with just a platter of them and a beer. It did occur to me that I was fairly certain that the menu said 8 pieces and we had somewhere around fourteen – that might have been my first clue that our waiter was flirting. That, or the fact that he was just pretty shameless about it.

Cilantro - salmon sushi roll

Next clue might have been his murmurred, “There’ll be a delay until your main course, so I thought I’d bring you a sushi roll.” Salmon, cream cheese, avocado, not my favorite combo for sushi, but the roll was well made and the wasabi was nicely pungent.

Cilantro - pork chops

Perhaps the two rounds of on-the-house cocktails, on top of the one that I’d ordered. Or maybe that I ordered up the glazed pork ribs, Indian style, and he delivered two huge, meaty pork chops (I really did kind of want to try the ribs – or maybe it’s just a misprint…), perched atop a mound of spiced potatoes and cabbage.

Cilantro - chiang mai noodles

Or, that he just sort of plopped the plate of Chiang Mai Noodles in front of Barbara, and, hmm, didn’t really pay much attention to her during the evening.

Or when he kept standing behind me to look over my shoulder as I took photos.

Or chatting about his life… okay, I did ask a few questions, I mean, he was cute, and I can at least look at the menu even if I can’t order from it….

Or even the round of digestif tea packed with lemon, ginger and mint at the end of the meal.

Or the discount he threw in on top of all that.

But no, it didn’t really occur to me that he could be flirting… right?

Good thing that the food was good, gives me a valid reason for going back.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob May 8, 2009 at 08:20


Evie Abat May 8, 2009 at 08:48

Dan, you a ho. But if it meant getting all the free Pan Asian goodness you photographed, I’d flirt my ass off. Looks sooo good.

david murbach May 10, 2009 at 21:33

how lucky can one get? a flirt is 1000 calories less than dessert. and usually a lot more tasty.

Beverley (Ottawa) May 16, 2009 at 15:19

Hi Dan,
I’m wondering if the waiter may have recognized you as a restaurant reviewer. Or if he does this with lots of different kinds of people. We’re an older heterosexual couple (not rich, not reviewers; we share meals) who risk growing accustomed to BA’s waiters giving us free wine, liqueurs, champagne. We never considered there could be a motive for this and I can’t imagine what it could be. But it’s a great surprise to return from the washroom to find 2 glasses of bubbly at the table at lunchtime, just waiting for you under the sun. And then learning later that they’re on the house. Even more amazing when the lady at the next table had just minutes before given us her almost full bottle of wine just before she left. This kind of thing happens often enought – just in BA – that David and I joke about how we could live on just all the free extras without ordering anything!

dan May 16, 2009 at 18:15

I somehow doubt it – he just moved to BA from Sao Paolo to go to school, and I’m not really that well known outside the English speaking/reading community. There were also other people in the room, including a table right next to us, who didn’t get any of the extras, and looked a bit jealous of the attention. Plus, while I was making a joke of it, there was no question he was blatantly flirting. About the only thing he didn’t do was offer a lap dance.


Joe July 27, 2009 at 15:16

Haha that is a great story, my girlfriend and I must have had the same waiter as we had just about the exact same situation (many free drinks to start/end the meal, incredibly long wait time accompanied with free food, flirtatious personality)… Classic

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