Fabled cafe La Biela likely to close permanently

sergio

Registered
I agree with what you are saying sergio. I just think we have slightly different concepts of updating. I mean more improving quality than anything else. I wouldn't want a coffee that was brewed in a pitcher minutes or hours earlier either.

Let's hope for the best.
At La Biela if you're ordering a cafe con leech con media lunas you'll get coffee served from a coffee pot with milk added at the table. The coffee was pre brewed. If you want your Cafe Doble made from the machine ask for Cafe Doble con express which means they will make it fresh and charge more. A cafecito is always made from the machine. I don't know if changes to the menu would have brought in more customers. Like everybody else they lost business when the economy took a nose dive but over many years I've seen that place packed. On weekends it could be hard to find a free seat. If they were doing well with customers coming back all the time, why should they change? For the benefit of a handful of people who would be happier somewhere else? I've seen tons of places come and go over the years and I can't see that the innovative ones have been particularly enduring.
 

Rich One

Registered
Eighteen years ago La Biela was a place to be seen and meet with notables patrons of the Hotel Alvear, although not a restaurant had some pretty good empanadas, pizzas, omelettes, pastas and picadas, also worth mentioning were the ice creams and flan con dulce de leche.

However from 2007 onwards it got crowded with busloads of tourists , no no little old ladies from Pasadena, but busloads of ladies from Kyoto and Nara. However no umbrellas like Madame Butterfly.

The surly waiters got used to large groups of tourists that would eat full lunch and dessert with A split of champagne . Hefty tippers ..!
Older ladies with puddles that would hang in there for hours nursing a cappuccino and one media luna de manteca, were absolutely unwelcome, Specially if they requested a small dish to feed the dog milk. They represented a clear loss of revenue and dead space.
You could read the frustration in the face of the waiters when you ordered ONLY an Espresso . If you managed to get a table that had no RESERVADO sign..!

Across the street there was the Cafe Parisienne, with some pretty good french bistro cuisine, like the Croque Madame and Crepes, Napoleons and Pain au Chocolat , Eclairs, etc. went belly up.


Same thing happened in Paris circa 1975 when the Rich Arabs and Iranians invaded Paris. Business owners declared " We want back the little Old Ladies from Minnesota"
 

on the brink

Registered
Mass tourism can be a real killer.

I used to go early every Sunday morning to the San Telmo antique market in Plaza Dorrego, to have breakfast, and wander around the square. There were lots of interesting things to look at - not valuable antiques but just old stuff, fun to browse through. The stall owners were very friendly, always eager to talk about their wares, and ready to joke with their neighbors and us passers by.

One day the tourist buses started showing up, and all that easy camaraderie dried up. Genuine old stuff was replaced by cheapie knock-offs made specially for the tourist trade, stamped "Recuerdo de San Telmo".

Next, in search of the tourists' tips came street performers, or just untalented people juggling a couple of balls in the air. After them came the pickpockets, followed by masses of policemen to try to keep them in check.

Many stall owners quit the market, and retreated to their lairs. Antiquarians in the shops surrounding the square decided to close on weekends, or simply picked up and moved elsewhere.

R.I.P., Plaza Dorrego market.
 

samsam

Registered
I haven't been back in over fifteen years. Perhaps it has changed again for the better.
Think it must have! I saw it within the last year and thought it was the most authentic market I'd seen in years. Had amazing tango guitarist and dancers around the central market. Probably thousands of stalls for what seemed like miles, no exaggeration, walked over and hour rapidly and still didn't see it all. Saw many wares that looked pretty authentic and quality.
Many bars and restros obviously, but inside the central market looked super.

So... when it comes back, check it out!

Speaking of jugglers you mentioned-- I see crazy good ones at stop lights in Buenos Aires.
 

sergio

Registered
Eighteen years ago La Biela was a place to be seen and meet with notables patrons of the Hotel Alvear, although not a restaurant had some pretty good empanadas, pizzas, omelettes, pastas and picadas, also worth mentioning were the ice creams and flan con dulce de leche.

However from 2007 onwards it got crowded with busloads of tourists , no no little old ladies from Pasadena, but busloads of ladies from Kyoto and Nara. However no umbrellas like Madame Butterfly.

The surly waiters got used to large groups of tourists that would eat full lunch and dessert with A split of champagne . Hefty tippers ..!
Older ladies with puddles that would hang in there for hours nursing a cappuccino and one media luna de manteca, were absolutely unwelcome, Specially if they requested a small dish to feed the dog milk. They represented a clear loss of revenue and dead space.
You could read the frustration in the face of the waiters when you ordered ONLY an Espresso . If you managed to get a table that had no RESERVADO sign..!

Across the street there was the Cafe Parisienne, with some pretty good french bistro cuisine, like the Croque Madame and Crepes, Napoleons and Pain au Chocolat , Eclairs, etc. went belly up.


Same thing happened in Paris circa 1975 when the Rich Arabs and Iranians invaded Paris. Business owners declared " We want back the little Old Ladies from Minnesota"
Strange. In hundreds of visits to La Biela over MANY years I never saw most of what you describe. Tourists? Yes, especially Brazilians, some Americans and others. Asians? Rare. The tourists usually come in and leave fairly quickly. Argentines linger. You can always tell the tourists by what they eat - and of course the way they dress. They order everything under the sun for breakfast - something no Argentine would do. As for ordering just coffee and annoying waiters, not so. Nobody cares. Surly waiters? Yes, some of them are like that. One waiter, now retired, used to come to the table and without saying hello shouted out "diga". Some waiters are polite though. I think they get used to all the luminaries who go there and it makes the staff feel important. Feeding a dog milk? They don't allow animals inside - only outside. They do have a guy who comes in to polish shoes for those who want it. What someone else said about not wanting to turn the AC on is true but better to have a window open and the overhead fan working than windows closed and a poorly working AC which is the norm in BA.
 

Rich One

Registered
Strange. In hundreds of visits to La Biela over MANY years I never saw most of what you describe. Tourists? Yes, especially Brazilians, some Americans and others. Asians? Rare. The tourists usually come in and leave fairly quickly. Argentines linger. You can always tell the tourists by what they eat - and of course the way they dress. They order everything under the sun for breakfast - something no Argentine would do. As for ordering just coffee and annoying waiters, not so. Nobody cares. Surly waiters? Yes, some of them are like that. One waiter, now retired, used to come to the table and without saying hello shouted out "diga". Some waiters are polite though. I think they get used to all the luminaries who go there and it makes the staff feel important. Feeding a dog milk? They don't allow animals inside - only outside. They do have a guy who comes in to polish shoes for those who want it. What someone else said about not wanting to turn the AC on is true but better to have a window open and the overhead fan working than windows closed and a poorly working AC which is the norm in BA.
All views are welcome and are valued contributions... Cheers
 
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