Thursday, August 9, 2018

Clayton: The No Way Buffet

Have you heard of the saying, no way, Jose? Well, now there's Clayton, the No Way Buffet!

In 2017, Las Tinajas, a popular buffet located in Boulevard San Juan 32 in Cordoba province had shut down. But like Doctor Who, it didn't stay gone for very long. It came back with a brand new face, but was the food any different?
In February 2018, the buffet restaurant reopened, but was now called Clayton. During their first month in business, they charged about the same price for lunch and dinner per person as they did when they were named Las Tinajas. I assumed that the prices would eventually go up after the month was up, but they didn't.
Las Tinajas - Prices in 2017

Prices for Clayton's first month

Current Price for Clayton as of July 2018

Another thing that didn't really change was the quality of food. Actually, I'm lying. It was actually worse. Everything was ice cold and the trays at the buffet were half empty. Sadly, the people in charge of filling the food trays were nowhere in sight during the hour and a half we were there. 
The only positive things I can say about Clayton are that the waiters and waitresses were friendly, the desserts were... acceptable, and the restaurant was clean.
But ten minutes after we ate, we were rushing home and fighting to see who was going to use the restroom first, and in my experience that's usually the result of poorly prepared food and cross-contamination. Of course, everyone has an off day, even restaurants, so it could have been that they were short-staffed that day. Who knows? But first impressions make a big impact on my personal decisions. So, would I go twice? No way!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Mr. Bagel Saves the Day... Well Sort Of

(2019 Update: Mr. Bagel is permanently closed)

I was bummed when Starbucks got rid of plain bagels in Argentina, but I was even more upset with Walmart, because they only sell a handful of plain bagels once a month. If you're lucky, you might get to find bagels there two or three times throughout the whole year. But now, Mr. Bagel has come along to save the day, or has it?
Mr. Bagel is located in Independencia 468 in Cordoba Capital, and offers a new twist on bagels. Now in the States, bagels come in a variety of flavors like plain, poppy seed, onion, apple-cinnamon, cinnamon-raisin, salty, blueberry, sesame seed, and the list goes on and on. But regardless of the flavor, most of us just slice a bagel in half, toast it, and add some cream cheese, and we're done. That's how I like bagels, and the only time I've ever deviated from that routine was when I was living with my in-laws in New York. Bagels with mayo, ham, and cheese used to be a quick meal in our household. But as I stood at the counter, I was blown away by how different Mr. Bagel prepared bagels, but I'm not saying it was bad at all.

You have three overhead menus, each with three steps:

The first step is to pick what type of bagel you want. There's the classic (aka plain), wheat (integral), garlic (ajo), onion (cebolla), or you can opt not to have a bagel and just go for a salad.

The second step is to pick a main ingredient for your bagel. There's salmon with cream cheese, which costs $160 Argentine pesos ($5.83 USD), Smoked Salmon for $150 Argentine pesos ($5.46 USD), Tuna for $140 ($5.10 USD), cheese for $120 ($4.37 USD), or vegetables for $90 ($3.28 USD).
The third and final step involves choosing 3 toppings at no additional cost, which include lettuce, onions, bell peppers, lentils, olives, avocado, sauerkraut, mushrooms, corn, carrots, eggs, tomatoes, and Yamani rice. If you've chosen your 3 toppings already, but you want an extra one, it's going to cost you $10 (.36 US cents) extra pesos per topping.
When you place your order, it's kind of like Subway. You tell the person what type of bagel you want, the main ingredient, the toppings, and what type of dressing you want on it. Mr. Bagel offers a couple of dressings like tartar sauce, Italian dressing, mustard, mayo, and ketchup. Oh, and I almost forgot. You'll also be asked if you want to toast your bagel. 
The customer service is amazing, which is so rare down here. I ordered the bagel with sesame seeds and some cream cheese with chives. I think the server was a little surprised that I would spend $120 pesos ($4.37 USD) on a bagel with cream cheese when there were so many other ingredients and toppings in front of me, but that's just who I am. I don't like to change things up too much. Fortunately, my partner, and our friend, Franco were both a bit more ambitious with their selections.
Zach had a plain bagel with carrots, cream cheese and chives, while Franco ordered two bagel sandwiches. One had salmon, sauerkraut, and avocado slices. The other bagel sandwich had tuna with sauteed peppers, and I have to admit, it looked delicious!
Plain bagel with carrots, cream cheese and chives

Bagel with salmon, sauerkraut, and avocado slices

Bagel with tuna with sauteed peppers

Compared to a plain bagel from Walmart or Starbucks, Mr. Bagel's bagels are thicker, crunchier, and tastier. For people who are lucky enough to live near Mr. Bagel, they can place an order through an online food delivery service known as PedidosYa, which will deliver the bagel right to the person's doorstep. Mr. Bagel also conforms to the Jewish dietary regulations, so if you're looking for Kosher, then you're in luck.

As far as the seating arrangements go, there are no individual tables inside Mr. Bagel, but they do have two bar-style tables with stool chairs along the wall and glass window, which is great right now because it's still winter here in Argentina, and most people don't want to eat outside when it's cold. But they do offer outdoor seating as well, which is where we sat. 

Mr. Bagel also sells donuts, which they call donas here in Argentina. Unfortunately, they had sold out when we got there in the afternoon. So, the server recommended we come in the morning to get our donut fix. So, I will definitely be coming back to sample their donuts in the near future, especially since they have such an amazing schedule, and fortunately, they don't adhere to the Argentine siesta).

  • Monday: 10:00 AM - 11:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM - 11:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM - 11:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM - 11:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Saturday: 9:00 PM - 12:30 AM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM - 11:00 PM

Mr. Bagel has created a friendly environment where people can congregate and talk for hours while eating bagels (or donuts), and drinking coffee (or a soft drink), and quite frankly, I'm glad, because while I love Starbucks, I was really looking for something a bit different, and I found it. So, would I come back? Absolutely!