Hidden behind a broken down metal blind is a very little coffeehouse, located in the entrails of busy San Isidro shopping district. Its name is Cien amores and it can be found at 338 Martín y Omar street, San Isidro. It is quite new and not very well known, and it offers lunch as well as coffee and tea. Brunch is a popular option as well, and this is what I had when I went there.
The brunch was abundant and varied. It included a cup of tea or coffee, an orange juice, some small toasted sandwiches, and an assortment of little cakes and pastries. Also, there were some scrambled eggs and a slice of cake of the consumer’s choice. Everything but the sandwiches was fresh and recently baked: they were too small and a bit dry, and already lukewarm when they got to the table. The beverage was not enough to wash down all the food, so one had to be careful and ration the amount drunk per sip or else face a dry throat leading to a loss of appetite. Nevertheless, this fact was outweighed by the quality of most of the food, which was delicious.
The main disadvantage of the place is its size. It is a very small coffeehouse; in fact, there is only room for tables in the street, in the open air. While this doesn’t sound bad for a spring afternoon, customers have to tolerate the weather conditions whatever they are, with the possibility of the wind freezing both their food and themselves. In fact, the scrambled eggs I had got ice-cold in a matter of a few minutes, and I never learned from experience that my croissants had been warm. Moreover, as it is located in the city center, people were constantly passing by, interrupting what little privacy could be had. On the other hand, as there is so little room inside, the kitchen is in full sight, which is an advantage for all who are worried about the cooking process. As well as this and to add to its picturesque air, the place is decorated in pastel tones of red, pink and brown, which make it feel cozy but fresh at the same time.
One of the least encountered qualities in restaurants in Argentina is good service. Restaurant owners seem to have forgotten that the key to customers coming back is their satisfaction, which is greatly enhanced through good service. Nonetheless, the owners of Cien amores show their knowledge of this by the looks of the staff. The waitress was very kind and polite, one of the most solicitous ones I have encountered recently, and also very cheerful. When called, she took very little time to approach the table, and when I asked if I could order a different brand of tea, instead of going for the easy and lazy “we don’t have any other” that many of her colleagues would have answered, she returned from the kitchen with a wide range of varieties of tea to choose from.
As can be seen from the described elements above, having brunch at this stowed away coffeehouse was quite a good experience. The food was really good and the service was what it should always be. It is not a place to go in winter – or else customers will have to ask the waitress, upon leaving, to thaw them from their seats. Therefore, the owners should consider moving to a bigger location in order to offer the option of eating indoors. All in all, for everything stated so far, I award Cien amores four out of five stars.