Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bistro, Faena Hotel+Universe, Buenos Aires

The Faena's not just a hotel, it's an actual Universe, which made me all the more itchy to go. The entirety of space and time and a concierge? I wondered if they'd have a swim up bar with pockets of dark matter. What more could girl ask for?

Well, quite a lot, actually. I like a posh hotel as much as the next person (assuming that next person is not Paris Hilton) but the Faena just didn't do it for me. Designed by Phillipe Stark, you could be in any of his hotels, it's so identikit bonkers. Themed as a bordello, all red and black drapes, it is totally over the top and completely soulless.

We stopped for a drink in the bar before our dinner reservation, but the music was so loud and the lighting so low that we realised communication would be impossible, so we moved through to the restaurant. Having been greeted at the door by possibly the most beautiful woman I have ever seen (who job was simply to say hello as you walked into the restaurant), while wearing a floor length red ball gown and displaying skin like creme brulee, we entered Le Bistro. It's quite a shock, after all of that red and black and velvet drapery, to walk into a room that's almost entirely white. A bit like walking into a sanitarium.

The room has rows of unicorn heads with vivid red eyes stating down at you. Possibly the biggest floral display I have ever seen. White Louis XVI style chairs surround the tables, while white leather studded banquettes line the walls. It's truly breathtaking and truly awful.

The food? Everyone's had their panties in a bunch because the Chef used to work at El Bulli, and so there's going to be a lot of *technique*. This became apparent from our amuse bouche, a deconstructed tortilla, which had the texture of partially-hydrogenated liquid styrofoam and a slight flavour of potato. Tortilla is one of my favorite things. Such alchemy that something as simple as potato, eggs, onion, salt and oil can come together and be so delicious. Here, the chef may have the technology and the desire to innovate, but some things were perfect before you got your pacojet on them.

There were some good things; my white salmon was a fab bit of fish, and they have got their hands on some good ingredients. But someone really needs to issue a restaurant edict to stop Chefs striping their plates with sauces. Especially when those sauces are brown or black. Just not pretty.

The bill was, of course, astronomical. I don't believe that cost should ever be a measure when you're talking about food. Unless you're paying hundreds of dollars for food that simply doesn't have a soul.

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