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Club 647, Buenos Aires--a dissent

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My friends and I went to the much-touted Club 647 a few nights ago, and we felt very strongly as a public-service announcement that we had to post this review. In short, it was the worst meal we’ve had so far in Buenos Aires. To give you some context, we’ve been to La Dorita, Don Julio, La Cabrera, La Cupertina, El Sanjuanino, and had great food everywhere. We’re from New York and San Francisco and mainly pick places to travel based on what we’ll find to eat when we get there. We tend to shy away from places that try to be “New York” restaurants, so perhaps we were unfairly biased. Maybe if you are into shiny black and red walls, lots of mirrors, and glossy photos of half-naked women with your food, you might like this place better than we did. And one big caveat—it’s possible that the chef has changed as the person on the menu was not the same person listed in TimeOut.

We had two entradas—the green salad that was good and fresh, even if I thought the dressing was too sweet, and the pear and goat cheese tart tatin which was tasty and enjoyable.
The entrees, however, were very poorly executed. My squid ink and saffron pasta was thankfully not overcooked, but all the mussels, scallops and shrimp in it were. You could smell how overcooked it was as soon as it was brought to the table. It needed salt desperately to add some flavor, any flavor.

My friend’s pork loin was dry and the soufflé of sweet potato and chipotle had a very odd, overly strong onion flavor, though it’s possible sweet potatoes here taste very, very different than sweet potatos in the U.S. Worse, my other friend’s duck three ways was at best, decent duck one way. The duck confit was dry and the phyllo dough covered duck was even drier, from the dough to the filling.

As my friend put it, the food felt dishonest. On a different day, we had ducked into Manolo’s in San Telmo when nothing else was open for lunch, and had a sort of chewy-tough milanesa slathered in ham, cheese and tomato sauce, with lots of hot, fresh French fries. It wasn't anything to write home about, but the service was kind and the food was honest. Club 647 was not.

I also noticed, after going to the restaurant, that most of the rave reviews are from posters who are very new to Chowhound.

I did like my cocktail, a gin martini with lemongrass and cilantro flavors.

We didn’t try any dessert. We had to get out of there—air conditioning must have been broken—before my friend passed out.

We really don’t like slamming a place we’ve only been to once, but we didn’t want anyone to go there like we did, having heard only uniformly positive reviews.

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  1. AppleSister,

    I whole heartedly agree with your review of the place. I ate there just 3 days ago based on reviews from this board. I'm not sure what's going on there but the food was definitely not as great as everyone made it sound.
    We ate there early as we were catching a tango show later so can't blame an overly busy kitchen.
    My husband started with a veal carpaccio with blue cheese and egg. Presentation was amateurish, the egg was a regular hard boiled chicken egg just sitting on top whole. Nothing special with the flavor. I ordered the sweetbreads and that was nice but again, nothing spectacular. But again, the presentation was awful, the portion was too big for the narrow little plate is was on and ended up more on the table than anything else.
    We split the main course, a grilled pink salmon served with braised endives. Again, the dish was only ok.
    We passed on dessert as we ran out of time but am kind of glad that we did.
    Service was attentive but there seemed to be some kind of misunderstanding in ordering the wine. The first bottle we picked, they said they were out. The second bottle we picked, again, they were out. But then for some reason, the waiter appeared with our first choice. Strange. And then, they forgot to return our credit card with the slip so we had to rush back after the tango show to retrieve the card as the restaurant closes at 12.
    This was our most expensive meal in our travels throughout Argentina and I'd have to say one of our most disappointing.
    I suppose it also didn't help that the there was a large group in there as well who's very annoying cell phone kept ringing at top volume.
    I would definitely not recommend Club 647 to anyone, there are much better places to eat.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bdachow

      I suppose i am someone who is very new to Chowhound but i am definately not new to eating out. Obviousely every person has a different view point but myself and my boyfriend very much enjoyed 647. We also ate in Don Julio and agree it is excelent but avoided La Cabrera as we were warned that it was a tourist trap and had read mixed reviews mainly backing up this fact. Another good place we ate was Oviedo, a superb Spanish Restaurant in Recoleta that was very authentic. Not so great experiences for us included Tomo 1, which was very expensive and not really what i would call modern cooking. To return to the subject, we really loved the whole 647 experience from the look of the place(very decadent) to the food but i suppose it is all a matter of opinion. I look forward to posting more on Chowhound now i have discovered it!

      1. re: sally56

        I went to Club 647 about a month ago and I had a good time. My boyfriend and I shared an appetizer, the pear and goat cheese tart tatin which was delicious. My boyfriend had the rib eye which was to die for. However, I had the duck 3 ways which was poorly executed. As AppleSister stated, yes the pastry was dry and so was the meat inside. We shared a dessert which was a chocolate meringue with kumquat compote... it was pretty delicious. The cocktails were great as well (we had 1 cocktail per person). Overally, we had a fantastic experience (atmosphere, food, service) except for the duck. It's a lot better than the supper clubs I've been to in Toronto. It was our most expensive meal in BA, but still pretty cheap for Canadian standards (Our bill came out to below $300AR before tips).

    2. Thanks for the comments as i am going to 647 tonight and it will be a more interesting experience to see how i like the place now there have been some negative comments to go with the good ones. I also just found this review of the place at
      http://www.askmen.com/fine_living/res...
      which was helpfull but we shall see.....
      Last night we ate in a great place called Sarkis, cheap, busy and really good food. Another place i really liked is called Spring, its in Palermo and is an all you can eat vegetarian buffet ...a rarity in this town i believe but tonight i will be changing pace and going full carnivore.

      1. We were at 647 last week and overall, our party really enjoyed the dining experience. Like you I thought 2/3 of the trio of duck was subpar. However, the other 1/3 of the trio was so good (and a large enough portion) that I did not mind so much. We also ordered the pear & goat cheese tart tartin, which I thought was excellent. Most people in our party ordered Ojo de Bife, which everyone raved about, and which I personally think was the best steak during our whole trip.

        If you read many of the comments on 647, people comment on the Ojo de Bife or Lamb. Perhaps those are the only real standouts of the restaurant (along with the tarte)??. The Ojo de Bife really tipped the scales for us.

        1. Well finally we ate last night at 647 after cancelling our first reservation due to extreme jet lag!! I must say that we had a really good time. We loved the place and both myself and my girlfriend found it a refreshing break from the norm that exists here in BA. In fact we could not understand the "dishonesty" angle in the review from apple sister or why argentina should not have places that look like 647. Does everything have to look like an"honest" parilla?
          I ate the Rib Eye steak and my girlfriend ate the Salmon, we loved them both and then gorged ourselves on a Whisky Parfait and a white chocalate desert. In all an excelent experience even if we both walked out considerably heavier than we entered.

          1. I was the one that made the honesty comment. I was referring solely to the food. The food looked like there was care put into it, the place looked like it justified the price, yet everything was off. The restaurant put more effort in the presentation than into the preparation of the food. As Applesister described the pasta itself was fine, but the seafood was cooked as if it were taken from a precooked frozen bag of seafood and then recooked to a rubbery consistency. The pork loin was also not executed well. The air conditioner was not working and the restaurant was out of several items (including lamb) even though it was only the start of the dinner service. Something about the business just seemed off to me. Given the vast array of beef offerings in BA, I'm not sure it would be worth it to come to 647 to have Ojo de Bife. As Bdachow said, there are many better places to eat in BA.

            3 Replies
            1. re: wanderlust21

              I think its very healthy that there are different view points on Restaurants. You guys obviousely did not enjoy your experience at 647, which could have just been an off night which can happen anywhere or thats just they way you feel about what 647 club has to offer. I suppose we just did not understand your comments about dishonesty and after our good experience we that felt to make "a public service announcemnt" seemed a pretty extreme reaction.
              We have been coming to BA since 2002 and have just bought a house here so we know the city pretty well and have seen it change a lot. Its places like 647 Club,Resto or Matt to name just a few that are really changing the jaded and tired view that the city has to be full of parilla's or quaint local places that tourists can feel comfy in. This is something that our Argentine friends are very glad of and hope will continue.

              1. re: MaxdFood

                Hi MaxdFood, thanks for your comments. I definitely didn't mean to disparage anyone's taste, I just wanted the Chowhound community to know that there are a range of opinions on Club 647. I also made the "new to Chowhound" comment because I do think that as Chowhound has grown, there's been a significant shift in the kind of food and experience many posters are looking for. I'm not saying that my criteria for good food are better than anyone else's, just that they're different. A forum of strangers' opinions is not worth anything unless you can figure out who has similar taste to you. If someone says, "This restaurant is really cheap," but he has a budget 3x the size of mine, I need to know that. In this case, we wanted to make a "public service announcement" so that people who have tastes similar to us can make an informed decision about where to eat in the likely short time they have in BA. I also feel like your endorsement is much more measured than many of the previous posters, that it's a fun and good place to have dinner, especially for BA residents looking for something new.

                I personally am not the kind of tourist that only wants to eat super-traditional food. I've been to Astrid y Gaston in Lima and Aguila y Sol in Mexico City, and loved them both. And after a week in BA, i was actually looking forward to eating at someplace other than a traditional parilla, and really looking forward to eating something other than beef. So you can imagine my disappointment when my seafood pasta was overcooked AND it was the most expensive meal we had in BA.

                We also had lunch at Cluny, a sleek place in Palermo, also not a traditional "parilla," and we found the food there much more enjoyable, if not an absolute "must-go." I've also heard good things about Voulez Dar, a French bistro recommended to me by a friend who lived here last year, "if you get tired of steak."

                1. re: AppleSister

                  Hi guys, I just got back from my first trip to BA and ate some amazing meals, but the one at 647 was definately the worst, by far. The place itself is beautiful, I loved the decor, and was really excited by the cocktails too. We went on a Friday night and there was only one other table there (we went at 10 ish, so not THAT early), and by midnight there still wasn't anyone in there. The food was unappealing - two companions left most of their starters and nearly all of their main courses. I had the sweatbreads, which I couldn't fault, followed by the duck 3 ways which was awful. No one wanted puddings. We went to some other lovely restaurants, inclusing Osaka, La Cabrera, Uriate, Dominga, and I left 647 to the last night, thinking it would be the best out of the lot: i was very wrong!

            2. I could be wrong on this one as I have never been to Club 647 but reading about it reminds me of Casa Cruz, where I have been. Everyone seemed to rave about it initially (with even the NY Times recommending it) as having great food, drinks, and just being a very nice, fun and different place. The reviews then got to be lukewarm and now no one talks about it that much. Going there ultimately I found it to be a place where the presentation of both the food and actual restaurant outdid the quality of the food, which overall wasn't bad -- some things were definitely much better than others. It didn't live up to previous glowing reviews but at the same time it didn't really deserve any of the bad reviews it got, either. It was a fun place for something different in BA with a great decor, good drinks and on average ok to good food but overall not worth the hype. From reading about Club 647 I imagine my reaction would be the same if I went.

              1. Hi Mr Pierce,

                We have had the pleasure of eating at both and 647 definately wins hands down. I totally agree on the Casa Cruz hype story, i was actually around to see its rise as "The Place"...but to be honest Casa Cruz never had any hype about the food from locals which 647 does. I think when any place rises to prominence there are immiedately after the wow reviews a series of negative ones because expectations have gone from zero as the place is unknown to the skys the limit as it is now "the place".and expectations are created. I´ve definately seen this happen in New York may times.
                Anyway we had a really good experience at 647 Dinner Club and i am sure that when we return there i will be sure to leave a note on ChowHound about our next experience.

                1. This place is really getting talked about now, when i originally reserved i thought i had found a little secret...obviousely not.. I ate in 647 Club with 3 friends about 6 weeks ago and it was superb. We did all eat the meat dishes though which are generally raved about so maybe no suprise there. The place looks very glamorous which sort of shocked us after arriving and finding from the outside what looked like an old crumbling building.
                  We ate the tart tatin,sweet breads and the carpacio followed by rib eyes and lamb, all cooked perfectly and full of flavour. In argentina we found it was always best to stick with the meat which was always incredible as opposed to the fish which we always found at best acceptable.