The King of the French Fry Palace.
Buenos Aires Travel Blog› entry 220 of 251 › view all entries
September 4th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
We walked, walked, walked today, taking care of some errands and seeing some sights too. The best part of our day was our lunch at the El Palacio de la Papa Frita (French Fry Palace!) which I will describe in due time.
We started by walking down Sante Fe Street, a wide boulevard lined with shops and restaurants and crowded with other pedestrians. After what seemed like a very long time (my cold is still very much with me and I was already tired), we arrived in Plaza San Martin. There is an old park there with benches and gnarled trees that reminded me of Paris. We didn’t hang around long to enjoy it though, as it was pretty darn COLD out. We continued on. Our destination was Plazo de Mayo, but all this walking had taken longer than we expected, so we decided to detour for lunch.
We cut across Florida Street, a pedestrian-only shopping street. Men kept springing out to invite us to buy leather in their stores and to hand us small informational cards and flyers. Since this happened every two seconds, it got really annoying. Why not let people stroll and shop in peace!? I am far less likely to go in a store when I feel pressured like that, and I bet there are many others who feel the same.
We got off this street to head north, where we finally found our intended lunch spot, Confiteria La Ideal. According to Fodor’s, this 1918 coffee shop has plenty of nostalgia, food, and …tango lessons! We walked through a huge double door into an entryway that led to a cavernous place, all dark wood and soaring ceilings, but also pretty rundown.
We moved on to Number Two on our lunch list, the aforementioned El Palacio de la Papa Frita. With a name like “French Fry Palace” I would expect plastic chairs and fast food. But this was a “real” restaurant with white tablecloths, dark wood, and a white-jacketed wait staff. And… no smoking anywhere! (It’s the law here in Argentina :^) We were seated and given Spanish menus (oh oh). Around us, the restaurant rapidly filled up, and we saw that most people were drinking wine and eating large pieces of meat in every form (steaks, and also bowls of beef pieces that appeared to be the parts that are normally thrown away).
There was a lot of key stuff we didn’t understand on the menu, but we did OK… I ended up with a mixed salad (oily but delicious, with lots of greens and pickled vegetables) and a huge platter of papas soufflés -- fried potatoes, inflated as if by magic. Life does not get much better than inflated, fried potatoes. Steve ordered a steak, which came with…MORE papas soufflés. Oops! We had enough potatoes for a family of twelve. Steve quickly decimated his portion and started in on the platter. We both did our best but were not successful in finishing them all…still, I say Steve is the King of the French Fry Palace for his noble efforts. I am quite sure no one has eaten more papas soufflés in one sitting than that.
When we finished with our royal feast, we rolled out of the restaurant and waddled over to a discount store. I bought gloves and a hat for about $4. Much better… it was very cold out. Next, another errand: we had to go to Andes Airlines to buy our plane tickets to Patagonia. Their web site has been down for days and I was started to worry about securing seats. Their little office was very busy and it took some time to get the tickets, but I was glad to finally get it taken care of.
Finally, it was time for Plaza de Mayo, which had been our original destination this morning. This plaza dates from 1580 and is where the local population has generally assembled for protests and rallies. In the center, we saw the Piramide de Mayo, a tall white monument imprinted with 25 Mayo 1810, the date of a famous uprising against Spanish colonial rule.
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