Some Rest for the Weary

Today was a very lazy day.  It seems Mendoza was a bit oversold to us and we have given ourselves too much time here.  That, combined with the fact that our next three weeks will be non stop hiking, camping treks, meant today was a day for taking it easy.

We slept in and left our hostel around 11 with the mission of finding me a nice shirt. We had dinner plans tonight at Francis Mallman 1884, a restaurant owned by Argentinian celebrity chef Francis Mallman who we had seen a Netflix documentary on a while back. Upon finding out that his restaurant was in Mendoza and it has 1300 excellent TripAdvisor reviews featuring such phrases as “worth the hype” and “the best meal I have ever eaten.” What really sold us though were the three star reviews like “the goat cheese and honey was a classic combination but didn’t bring anything new to the conversation.” If people that snobbish about food were eating here we figured we had to as well.  The downside was that it’s a dressy restaurant so we would have to dress my jeans up with something more than a T-shirt.

Our search began at the Wal-mart-esque Carrefour where we did indeed find some shirts but they weren’t quite dressy enough.  We settled for just a water and headed back out into the town.  We passed a few clothing stores but they seemed to all cater to women, until we happened upon a madhouse of a store having a liquidation sale.  It was kind of like a Marshalls and after some issues finding an appropriate size, and waiting in quite a long check-out line, we made out it with a decent, white button-up just as they closed for siesta.

Argentinian Marshalls.
Argentinian Marshalls.

From here we headed to the tourist information center and got some info for our bus ride up into the mountains tomorrow and then headed down the main pedestrian drag to find some lunch.  The menu of every single restaurant was identical so we settled for one with some nice patio seats and ordered some chicken and steak. The cubierto (bread and water) at the restaurant was delightfully two very flaky empanadas which we enjoyed but still thought Las Americanas in Buenos Aireas was better.  The meals itself were okay and we had some nice conversation with two men from Bend, Oregon who were beginning a motorcycle journey across Argentina.  We also got some advice from them about learning to ride ourselves.  One of them was very insistent that we buy a Yamaha 225 something something for learning on.  We nodded along politely.

Doug at lunch, enjoying the warm air and shade of the trees everywhere.
Doug at lunch, enjoying the warm air and shade of the trees everywhere.
Seen on our walk around town.  They use the dollar sign for pesos as well which makes this much more reasonable.  But at first glance you think that's one expensive Big Mac.
Seen on our walk around town. They use the dollar sign for pesos as well which makes this much more reasonable. But at first glance you think that’s one expensive Big Mac.

After lunch it was time for our own siesta.  We headed back to the room and I did some Bolivia planning while Lynn took a brief nap. Around 4.00 we headed back out again to the Carrefour to stock up on supplies for our day hike tomorrow and a failed attempt to replace my now broken sunglasses.  Superglue will have to do for now.  We headed back to our room for some more relaxation before the main event of the day…dinner!

Argentinians seem to have a fondness for powdered drinks.  We found this aisle at the grocery store which confirmed our suspicions.
We had noticed on several occasions that Argentinians seem to have a fondness for powdered drinks. We found this aisle at the grocery store which confirmed our suspicions.

As it got close to our reservation we got dressed and headed out.  We decided to walk because it was nice day and Google claimed it was only 45 minutes.  Along the way we discussed Lynn’s future employment potential since she had spent some siesta reacquainting herself with the Austin job market.  We arrived at the restaurant early (45 minutes…come on Google) and hot.  The restaurant wasn’t even open yet so we had some ice waters from a local Sugar Shack (that’s not actually the name but what I’ve taken to calling their convenience stores that sell nothing but candy, soda, and water) and circled the block a few times.

At 8.30 almost on the dot, the gates opened and we met a security guard who checked our name on a list and exchanged some Spanish with us (mostly Lynn).  We were the first ones seated and quickly ordered.  The appetizers came out quickly and both were quite good, a beef carpacio salad and “open faced” butternut squash ravioli.  The mains were a bit more disappointing.  My steak was good but certainly no better or worse than I can get from most placed in Austin.  Lynn’s 7 1/2 braised lamb though, was dry and bitter and neither of us were fans of this much touted plate.  For dessert we had a Francis Mallman classic, burned fruit with ice cream.  It was certainly different but neither of us really saw the appeal apart from a sour plum. Overall, the meal was good but disappointing given it’s listing as a top 50 restaurant in the world.

Very full (the portions were huge!) we caught a remis home and quickly fell asleep.

The cubierto bread was certainly a level above stale old bread.
The cubierto bread was certainly a level above stale old bread.
Beef carpacio with arugula, capers, and toasted peanuts on the left and open faced butternut squash ravioli in browned butter cream on the right.
Beef carpacio with arugula, capers, and toasted peanuts on the left and open faced butternut squash ravioli in browned butter cream on the right.
Ribeye with chimichuri sauce on top and "domino" potatoes.
Ribeye with chimichuri sauce on top and “domino” potatoes.
7 1/2 hour Malbec braised lamb with mashed potatoes.  The most disappointing of the plates.
7 1/2 hour Malbec braised lamb with mashed potatoes. The most disappointing of the plates.
Burned assorted fruits with vanilla ice cream.
Burned assorted fruits with vanilla ice cream.

Daily Walking Mileage : 9 miles

Fun Facts:

  • We learned about Francis Mallman and his restaurant from the Netflix six part documentary A Chef’s Table, which we highly recommend.  His was the most ridiculous episode by far.
  • No one who operates tours in Bolivia has a website.  It seems most people just show up and book things there for the next day which makes both of us very nervous.
  • The name of the restaurant 1884 comes from the year in which the building that houses it was built.  It seemed to be an old factory of some kind and was quite hidden from the street.
  • There is a guitar guy who seems to live at our hostel and makes himself known every night in the backyard with mediocre renditions of typical songs (U2, Oasis, Johnny Cash) well into the night.  We can luckily hear the whole concert every night through the very thin walls of our patio turned bedroom.

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