Recoleta . Buenos Aires
- Ambience 80%
- Service 80%
- Food (Execution) 80%
- Creativity 60%
- Value 60%
Address: Av Alvear 1891
Telephone: +54 11 4808-3857
Restaurant Type: Formal Dining, Upscale Casual
Hours: Mon-Sat 7:30 pm to midnight[/types] Sun Closed[/types] [/types]
Summary of Review
Restaurant Review for La Bourgogne
Rating: 4.0 stars
At one time, Buenos Aires, dubbed the Paris of South America, was a rich and thriving city. Probably one of the five wealthiest cities in the world at the beginning of the 20th century. The residents likely had a handful of fancy French restaurants and were able to lure Parisian chefs into their domain.
Time changes everything, including Buenos Aires. The city is but a glimpse of what it used to be. Decades of misguided government have the left the country and city in shambles.
But you can still see vestiges of the city’s grand past in the crumbling buildings, built at the turn of the century and in the obsession Porteños have always had for European culture. Perhaps the best glimpse of what Buenos Aires used to be is from the lobby of the city’s Alvear Hotel.
As the city dimished in character and wealth, so did the number of French restaurants serving haute cuisine. Today, there is arguably only one still standing. What stately, old hotel would be legitimate without a fancy restaurant with a French name and a chef with a French name to boot?
At La Bourgogne, Chef Jean-Paul Bondoux has created a limited menu of French inspired dishes, utilizing Argentine ingredients. Unlike the stately old hotel in which it resides, La Bourgogne has an updated look and feel. Modern dining chairs, upholstered in red leather, and white marble floors and walls, with lots of white lilies spread about the room, create an elegant ambiance. The staff is starched, but friendly and accommodating.
You can choose dishes a la carte or try the seven-course tasting menu. Wanting to get a wide range of the kitchen’s abilities and a good feel for the breadth of the menu, I decided to dish out the US$105 (1,600 pesos) for the multi-course extravaganza.
The whole affair began with an amuse bouche. A velvety pâté, followed by the first course, a duo of shrimp, lighted dusted and sautéed, served on a carrot puree, accompanied by citric foam. The fish course was Pollack, lightly seared, accompanied by a black garlic foam and a saffron puree, baby carrots, and lots of little sprouts strategically placed with tweezers.
The third course was lamb with pears, dusted in what I think was chocolate, and sitting in a thyme broth. Sorry. No photo of this course.
The final meat course was a veal steak, accompanied by pommes Dauphine, with both a Béarnaise sauce and tomato pesto on the side.
This was followed by a cheese course. A large tray of a variety of cheeses is brought to the table and you can have your pick. The waiter will arrange them in order around the plate to be consumed in a clockwise fashion. Being a renegade, I, of course, consumed them randomly and felt no the worse off for having done so.
The cheese plate was followed by a passion-fruit granita and a tablet of sweet petite fours, offered as a palate cleanser.
The finishing touch was some sort of white chocolate candy-bar, accompanied by a citric sorbet and sitting in a light lime-green citric sauce, with little tidbits of candy spread about to add some interest to the dessert.
The food was all expertly executed and the service was spot-on. The ambiance was pleasant. But I did feel the menu overall lacked inspiration. Out of seven courses, none were imaginative. Well executed, yes. Delicious, yes. But, quite honestly, the food I was served at the casual restaurant, Aramburu BIS across town was far more interesting, at half the cost.
Is La Bourgogne one of the city’s top 10 restaurants? Yes. It mostly likely is. But after all, it’s now the 21st century. The word, French, when attached cuisine, doesn’t quite ring the same elegant tone it used to. The popular words in restaurant cuisine are words like fusion, molecular and modernist. With a high price tag by Buenos Aires standards, and nothing especially compelling to make this a memorable dining experience, I’m left asking myself, “What’s all the fuss about?”