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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Panini (And Holiday Drama)

Coto, you don't know me at all.
Let me set the scene:

Thanksgiving Day, 2009, I've lived in Buenos Aires for 5 days.  Our moving shipment is due to arrive in our new apartment the next day, so my plan is to go grocery shopping, clean the apartment and prepare to welcome our belongings to our humble abode.  I venture out to the closest grocery store, Coto, for my first Spanish-speaking grocery shopping trip.  I should mention that virtually every store in Bs.As. delivers, and since we don't own a car, I had our groceries delivered.  I was prepared, since I barely knew how to spell my name in Spanish, I bring a card with our new address written on it so there would be no confusion about destination of our groceries.

I pay for the groceries, went to our empty apartment and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Imagine my surprise when - count them - SEVEN HOURS LATER we have still not received our groceries.  We have to call a coworker of Jon's to call the Coto helpline to figure out where our groceries were, only to find out that they were sent to the wrong street.  Why that didn't warrant a phone call from Coto, I'll never know.  Not only that,  we shouldn't expect to see our things for at least another 3 hours.  SERIOUSLY?!  TEN HOURS for delivery??  We live like 10 blocks from the store.  Worst. Shopping. Ever. 

So, on Thanksgiving night as we waited for our well-traveled groceries to arrive, we tried Panini for the first time.  Panini is a chain of café-style restaurants with a location directly across the street from us on the corner of Libertador and Callao.  Across the street was as far as I could have made it, since I had sat in an empty apartment for over 7 hours terrified of missing the blessed grocery delivery, I didn't even leave for food.  So we sat at an outdoor table on the beautiful November day and waited to be waited on.  At this point. I'm done with waiting.  We go and get our own menus.  We vigorously wave to a waitress to say that we're ready.  We wait for a plate of saltines crackers and ham made into tiny sandwiches that looks like a kinder-gardener's mid-afternoon snack to be delivered and I send it back because there's no cheese.  The waitress and her cracker plate return only for a gust of wind to blow the whole plate, crackers, ham and cheese into my lap.  I start to cry.  I swear off of Panini.

A few months later I realize that Panini may have been given a bad shake.  It's not their fault that Coto sucks.  It's not their fault that the wind gusted my food into my lap.  To date, Thanksgiving Day has been my most frustrating day here in Bs.As. so maybe it just wasn't the best time to try a new restaurant.  We have since been there three other times, and though the food has been better (it's also been worse...) the service has been consistently horrendous.
In our best meal there, Jon had a steak sandwich:
 And I had a roast vegetable sandwich
The insides were good, but the bread was stale, hard and burnt.  Bad combo.  The menu prices are reasonable, but they are all a la carte, no sides with this meal.  We had a pizza once and it was decent - but I can't tell if it's because the pizza was good or if we just desperately want this super convenient café to be good.  One thing is for sure, the service is terrible.  I went for a quick bite with my brother Chris while he was in town and when we walked in there were five employees behind the bar eating and zero employees helping the 7 or 8 tables of people in the dining room.  It's not that big of a place either, it's not like we couldn't see each other, it's more that the staff just doesn't care.  Panini is a good stop for coffee and to catch up with friends because you'll never be bothered.  More likely. they'll forget you're even there.

All in all, a big thumbs down to Panini.  Even on my best days, it's unimpressive.

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