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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Restaurant Review: Happening

I'm going to start posting reviews of restaurants, businesses, and anything else I think might be helpful for expats who are living here or even tourists visiting. The first is a review of a restaurant I went to last week with a few business partners. Let me preface these reviews by first stating that I am no food expert. Don't expect the New York Times Restaurant Review here. I'm only providing my opinion based on what I like.

Happening

  • Address: Av. R. Obligado (no number, past the Aeroparque)
  • Neighborhood: Costanera Norte, Capital Federal
  • Phone: 4782-8207, 4787-0666
  • Food: Grill
  • Hours: 12 PM - 2:30 AM
  • El Expatriado's Rating: 3/5

For me, the best thing about this restaurant was the setting -- it had a great view and the location was nice. I'd recommend getting a spot by the window on the second floor. You can see across the river to downtown Buenos Aires. I was there during lunchtime, but I think this would be a great place to go at night and see views of the city across the river.

For me, the food was average. I had pasta and it wasn't particularly memorable. I know the speciality was the grill, but I wasn't in the mood for more meat. In hindsight, it was probably a mistake. I can't comment on the meat, but I can't really give a glowing review of the pasta.

When I was there, our waiter must have dropped, spilled, or knocked things over at least 4 times. It happened so much that it got to the point of becoming comical. We were daring each other to order coffee at the end because we were afraid it would end up spilled in our laps. The waiter must have been new or something.

If it weren't for the fantastic view and setting, Happening would have been given a 2/5. However, if I would have liked the food I could have given it a 4/5. Maybe if I decide to brave the service once more I'll try the grill and it'll be better, letting me upgrade my review.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Gringo living in New York. My wife is from B.A.; I just bought an apartment there 2 weeks ago. We plan on going at least for one month a year, and I may stay for longer.

I really think more attention needs to be paid to what I perceive to be the dearth of good food (or at least, variety) in Argentina. It is pitiful, especially compared to the wonders of New York.

I have a LOT of trouble when I go down there: trouble with taste, trouble with bowels, trouble with food-boredom. I can't talk to the wife about it anymore -- she gets defensive. For Christ's sake, how much beef can you eat? I don't even like meat too much, and the choice comes down to:
Jamon/queso
Milanesa (what is the big deal about these rubber-shoe sandwiches)
empanadas
pasta.

That's it. There is literally nothing else to eat. And when you try to order a vegetable in a restaurant, Argentines are so disgusted that it isn't meat that they destroy it with oil/egg/overcooking until it looks like a grey mass of overchewed asado.

I think I bought the apartment mostly so when I go down there I can cook my own food, instead of with the family.

Although fatness is notably absent from the nation, they are very unhealthy people: Globs of cream and oil-smothered overcooking cannot be a good thing.

And I am not being a jaded yuppie; just look at Asia and how delicate, varied and subtle their culinary culture is.

Maybe it's a conspiracy to save on toilet paper, since the fecal-stones that barely roll out after six months
don't require much.

More cheese, anyone?

-- El Gringito

6/02/2005 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger elizabeth said...

From a gringo living and eating here exclusively: While I agree that there may not be the variety of food found here compared to other world capitals, I would argue that the quality of the food is quite good and certainly the meat: beef, pork, lamb and even chicken is far better than what you find in the states. It has much more flavor and is not swimming in some kind of sauce. I personally have grown to love empanadas and milanesa, which are comfort food here and like anything it depends on who is cooking it. Not everyone in the world likes PB&J or macaroni and cheese. I too have gotten sick of papas with every meal but you can always ask for vegtables and they are quite plentiful in the supermarkets.

I dont know where you are going to eat, but for someone who grew up in San Francisco and is quite a foodie I have had lots of good meals here.

But even more than the food itself, having a meal is the wine, the conversation and the people you are sharing it with and I would argue that the Argentines are as good as anyone at putting it all together.

6/03/2005 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger fiorella said...

I don´t know where Anon has been eating, but I´m from San Francisco and have found the restaurants and food options in BA to be fantastic! I order vegetables with almost every meal and haven´t had an empanada in about 2 weeks. Maybe he should pick up a Lonely Planet guide...

6/05/2005 07:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Original poster)
It is true what you say about the wine, conversation, etc. I did enjoy a terrific Choripan (Chorizo sandwich) with a glass of red wine with ice (!) in el barrio Nueva Pompeya. (It's funny what a faux pas that is in New York -- ice with red wine! But, hey, why not?)

I guess my real complaints are targetted towards the everyday restaurants for quick meals. I am not talking about the fine restaurants, of which there are many. I am referring to the fact that I can only find a leathery milenesa when drunk at 3 a.m. in Buenos Aires. In NY, of course, I could eat fresh sushi at that hour. I am a spoiled, bratty New Yorker.

But seriously, I have a lot of experience living with the in-laws for months at a time, for 5 years now, and there definitely is a different conceptionof food, and what constitutes healthy food. For example, try ordering only a salad for dinner in a restaurant (not with huevos, queso, jamon, etc.). They will assume that you are on a special diet. The menu may even refer to it as diet food. This is because for them it is not normal to eat like that.

With the family of my wife, we were seen as freaks because we sometimes cooked separately (not an easy thing to do with everyone around). It could be just her family, you say. Well, it's all just my impression of the city after 5 years.

By the way, one of my favorite restaurants is Guerrin, a fabulous old pizza place I think around Corrientes, in the center. Wonderful stuff with wine. Of course, it's the usual queso, queso, queso, queso, queso, queso, queso, queso, but what can you do with limited options.

6/06/2005 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Original poster)
It is true what you say about the wine, conversation, etc. I did enjoy a terrific Choripan (Chorizo sandwich) with a glass of red wine with ice (!) in el barrio Nueva Pompeya. (It's funny what a faux pas that is in New York -- ice with red wine! But, hey, why not?)

I guess my real complaints are targetted towards the everyday restaurants for quick meals. I am not talking about the fine restaurants, of which there are many. I am referring to the fact that I can only find a leathery milenesa when drunk at 3 a.m. in Buenos Aires. In NY, of course, I could eat fresh sushi at that hour. I am a spoiled, bratty New Yorker.

But seriously, I have a lot of experience living with the in-laws for months at a time, for 5 years now, and there definitely is a different conceptionof food, and what constitutes healthy food. For example, try ordering only a salad for dinner in a restaurant (not with huevos, queso, jamon, etc.). They will assume that you are on a special diet. The menu may even refer to it as diet food. This is because for them it is not normal to eat like that.

With the family of my wife, we were seen as freaks because we sometimes cooked separately (not an easy thing to do with everyone around). It could be just her family, you say. Well, it's all just my impression of the city after 5 years.

By the way, one of my favorite restaurants is Guerrin, a fabulous old pizza place I think around Corrientes, in the center. Wonderful stuff with wine. Of course, it's the usual queso, queso, queso, queso, queso, queso, queso, queso, but what can you do with limited options.

6/06/2005 12:55:00 PM  

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