Oui Oui? Non non? Peut-être Peut-être…

2010.May.20 Thursday · 7 comments

in Restaurants

“I’d rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I’d rather be a has-been than a might have-been, by far; for a might have-been has never been, but a has was once an are.”

– anonymous

In the ever widening search for a decent brunch place – not to say we haven’t found some, but it’s always good to have options – a couple of us found our way to the far reaches of Palermo and standing in line for the Sunday brunch at Oui Oui, Nicaragua 6068 this last weekend. The line was long when I arrived a short while before 1 p.m., but luck was with us as we were the only party of two awaiting a table, so the next mesa that opened up was ours and by the time my friend arrived ten minutes later, I was already seated and waiting.

It’s a kind of kitschy-cute place, with salmon colored patio furniture lined up in rows to seat somewhere between 30-40 people at a time. The menu shows up in three guises – there’s a chalkboard awkwardly placed on one wall – I suppose it wouldn’t have been awkward had we not been seated directly against that wall, so it was pretty much impossible to see. And two small plastic covered cards are delivered, one with a regular a la carte menu, the other with the brunch menu. The latter has no prices on it, which is to figure into this review, since the only way to determine your brunch price is to be able to see the chalkboard.

Oui Oui - smoked salmon on a bagel

The options are very brunch-y and that’s a good thing. They’re also quite tasty, another positive. They’re also quite small, a negative. This bagel was roughly 2½” across, with a schmear of cream cheese, at best, and one slice of very good smoked salmon. The fries are fantastic – roasted in lemon and herbs. The plate turns out to be $40. It does, however, include your choice of a mug of “filtered coffee” or a lemonade, your choice – but not an espresso, which we both wanted, so we paid extra for that, $7 apiece.

Oui Oui - brioche with scrambled eggs

My brioche with scrambled eggs was also quite good – beautifully soft and silky eggs, with “fresh peas” (I doubt it at this season, likely frozen, but, it’s their claim), and a single slice of smoked salmon. The brioche, fine, but not brioche – tasted like and had the texture of a slice of plain white country bread. Another $40. Oh, did I mentioned the Blood Marys? Nope. We’d ordered those upfront. Our espressos arrived in about two minutes after ordering them. Our food arrived less than five minutes behind them. Our Bloody Marys, “they’re making them.”

Oui Oui - bagel with butter

Our plates cleared, we’re sitting and waiting, trying to flag down our waitress – charming, but overly busy handling the volume of tables she’s got to deal with. Ten minutes go by and our drinks show up. We should have simply refused them at that point. Really we should have, because they might be the worst Bloody Marys either of us has ever had. I don’t know what they were made out of – as a guess, boxed tomato puree, the type used for tomato sauce, something bitterly citrusy, maybe grapefruit juice from a carton, wayyyy too much worcestershire sauce, a lot of black pepper, and something that was sort of metallic tasting and left our tongues feeling like aspirin tablets had just taken up residence on them. $25 apiece.

But, we didn’t refuse them, and I decided to order another bagel, with butter, which arrived quickly. The butter enough to handle half the room’s toast and bagels. We joked that it wasn’t enough and our waitress offered to get more – not sure if she didn’t quite have a sense of humor or was just too frazzled. The bagel itself, I should mention, made on premise, as are all their breads – not much more than a bread roll with a hole poked through it, but at least a tasty bread roll. $5. Not too bad. Oh, but that block of butter… $3.

So all told, we liked the food and the ambiance, though not the Bloody Marys. And while $80 apiece for brunch is not out of line in a good brunch spot here, especially with drinks, the quantity of food was pitiful and not worth the price – I mean, at places like Novecento and Sirop, you can get a brunch tasting menu for that price. The search continues.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Candice May 20, 2010 at 12:01

Too bad … it seems like it (brunch) would be so easy to get right .. I remember brunch at Olsen as being excellent.. or that might have just been the company.

I will have those fries to start and maybe the eggs.
I will skip the Bloody Mary which seems to be quite difficult to master here in BA.

For a good Bloody Mary – The Alvear Hotel Bar.
( much research went into what I am telling you here)
And Rond Pont on Alcorte & Tagle ( they only ruined it once and I made them do it over )
and Novocento in Las Canitas..

We rarely go out for actual brunches, but I do like a late morning Bloody Mary on a Sunday. Or in the afternoon…any day of the week lol…

dan May 20, 2010 at 18:14

So far, best Bloody Marys outside of a hotel bar have been at Novecento and Home, and the one at Malasartes wasn’t bad either – all reviewed here on the site – and all three have decent brunches/late breakfasts. I’ve yet to hit the Alvear’s brunch though I hear great things. One of these days! Olsen’s brunch is indeed decent, though not great, and is in fact the only possible excuse for going to Olsen unless you’re missing hanging out in your local Ikea showroom. Haven’t tried their brunch cocktails. Will have to check out Rond Pont’s – I’ve had sandwiches there at lunch and thought they were quite good – do they serve a brunch or late breakfast on the weekends?

You’re welcome to the fries and eggs at Oui Oui, which admittedly were good – I just can’t see paying 40 pesos for two scrambled eggs and half a dozen roasted potato slices – actually, given that you’d be making a special request to combine them on one plate, there’s likely an extra charge!

Candice May 21, 2010 at 10:19

I am not sure about brunch/late breakfast as we usually end up there around 2:00 and just have drinks and rabas. They generally do an excellent rabas and their little tapas? are very good that come with the drinks. Their bread is good.. which always scores big points with me.
Olsen is remembered mostly for the setting and the company.. Another brunch that is just so good is Sunday Brunch at the Eva Peron Museum Cafe. . in good weather , in the garden. Otherwise, that wall seat by the round corner table is mine !

don May 26, 2010 at 14:14

i actualy had a very, very decent brunch in Prodeo Lounge the other day. Eggs benedict with a “real” hollandaise sauce; light, tangy, creamy. Started with yogurt, red fruit compote with granola, than the eggs. On the side were 2 tiny chicken patties and a slab of bacon, and breakfast potatoes, just like i have ’em at home. a dessert tasting afterwards. the bloody mary was good, the coffee very nice, and the small buffet with muffins, bagels, banana bread and sourdough bread tempting

go back for sure

dan May 26, 2010 at 14:39

I haven’t tried them for brunch, didn’t even know they offered it – we just checked them out for dinner recently and they’re on my list to writeup for that – dinner was fantastic! I’ll look forward to checking out the brunch, thanks for the tip!

dan June 13, 2010 at 14:55

Candice – have to admit, I’m glad we looked at the bar menu before sitting ourselves down today in the Alvear. We knew it would be pricey, but come on, $60 for a Bloody Mary??? To paraphrase a friend of mine in the restaurant biz, “I don’t care if the tomatoes were hand squeezed by blind crippled nuns…”. I will have to leave it with your assertion that it’s the best in town.

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