Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Brunch, in the United States, is defined as a weekend ritual for twenty-something year olds (typically New Yorkers), who gather to share their first meal of the day after a long night of drinking and debauchery. The meal occurs any time after noon and before 5 pm on a Saturday and/or Sunday, where the participants recap the events of the previous night over several rounds of moderately priced Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. Brunch is not just a meal; it is an urban cultural affair. In fact, people are so devoted to this culinary phenomenon, that there are entire websites dedicated to finding the best brunch spots in most major US cities—who can make the best eggs Benedict, the biggest blueberry pancakes, the most delicious omelette, and the perfect Bloody Mary. And don’t even get a New Yorker started on the best bagels and egg sandwiches!! Oy Vey!
I consider myself a fairly loyal “brunchee” at home, and after having a rather long and drunken night last night, I decided that the best way to embark on a new day was by starting it off with a proper brunch. Luckily, the brunch concept is catching on here in Buenos Aires and a ton of search results came back, much to my surprise. I was looking at the list of restaurants, when I spotted the words “breakfast buritto” nestled into the description of a place called Magdalena’s Party. My heart jumped and the decision was made, we were going to Magdelena’s!
We got a table right away, and began drooling over the very Americanized breakfast menu, which included items such as “American Diner Special,” belgian waffles, and bagels with lox. My pupils were dialating by the second. We started off with a couple of Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, which I thought were all very good. The mimosas here are made with fresh squeezed orange juice–a classy step up from Tropicana back home! And the Bloody Mary was very tasty, especially taking into account that Argentines are typically very shy with the pepper shaker and this drink had whole peppercorns at the bottom! Like little nuggets of gold!
Next we placed our food order, which entailed two orders of the Cali Coast Omelette–a delicate crepe stuffed with eggs, black beans, bacon and cheese, and topped with pico de gallo, avocado and sour cream, served with a side of home fries–(45 pesos) and one order of Blueberry Pancakes (30 pesos). Then after placing our order, we waited. And we waited. And we waited.
We continued waiting for a total of one and a half hours before the first dish was brought to the table. And that was just the first dish. The second one didn’t come out until 15 minutes later, and then the third one about 5 minutes after that. Therefore, we all ate at seperate times and without an appology from the server, who acted as if this kind of service was normal and acceptable.
Now I have worked in restaurants all of my life, and I understand that sometimes there are just “off days” and the server can’t do anything to icnrease the producitivty of the kitchen. However, I also believe that a server acts as the face of the restaurant and needs to honestly and appologically inform customers of problems that occur. It is amazing what a smile (and free round of mimosas) can do to alleiviate the agony of a long wait for food.
This being said, I am torn with my review of Magdalena’s Party becasue the food was not bad, but the service was abomidable. My Cali Coast Omelette was actually pretty good. I thought it could have used a little bit more egg inside of the crepe, but the general flavor was tasty and the home fries were done perfectly. In fact, the home fries were really, really good now that I think back.
The pancakes were also nice, although the server forgot to mention that they were out of blueberries that day and just shrugged her shoulders and walked away when asked about it. And getting syrup was like pulling teeth…quite a painstaking task.
Overall, I probably won’t go back to Magdalena’s becasue I had such a bad service experience and often the service is what you remember the most when the food is just average. But again, I understand that restaurants have bad days, and had the wait not been so long and the service not so bad, I would have enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere. Try Magdeaena’s Party if you have a lot of free time to kill, becasue your Brunch might turn into a Drunch if you have the same waiting experience that I did.