Olsen: The Original Buenos Aires Brunch

Back in the day, in the mid 2000s, before the brunch craze invaded Buenos Aires, Olsen reigned on top for THE place to brunch. Cool, sleek, modern atmosphere, minimal decor, beautifully presented food, extremely accessible prices, trendy clientele and a one-of-a-kind menu.  Stir in dozens of write ups in the popular guide books, and a long menu of favorite brunch delights, and this Scandinavian restaurant was the place to be.  Fast forward a few years, keep the foreigner-tourist-trendy crowd, add a dash of Argentine hipsters, double the prices, keep the same menu but lower the quality, and you’ll have your brunch.

Known for their inventive drinks and top of the line vodkas, Olsen mainly offers upscale lunch and dinner during the week.  On Sundays, however, diners can pick and mix from a place-mat of food options, A-E, offering about 64 brunch combination all for AR$90 AR$56 (was AR$27 in 2007).  Menu in 2010. A-E, very confusing to order.

Not only was only a first bringing brunch to the city, they also were once the only restaurant to serve bagels. A highlight of the brunch. They aren’t great, but decent enough.

In addition to the brunch menu, Olsen also has the ‘smorgasbord’, 5 small “Nordic” canopés. Uninteresting, a bit stale and cheap tasting, nothing to write home about.

An omelet + 2 “bratwurst” sausage SCHLONGS with potatoes. The omelet wasn’t light and fluffy the way you want to eat an omelet. It was rubbery, greasy, overcooked, heat way too high and on the stove way too long. Nothing was good about it. Two phallic looking meaty schlongs do not a bratwurst make. I know my Bratwurst, and these were not it, instead they were Argie “salchichas alemanas” and not inspiring. Luckily the potatoes were quite tasty, crispy, fried, nicely cooked.Next up scrambled eggs + grilled vegetables with mixed greens.  These eggs were light, fluffy, cooked properly – but nothing I couldn’t make myself.  Grilled vegetables were on the right track, but oily vegetables drizzled with more oil is a stomach ache waiting to happen.  Pass me more bagels and some vodka, please.

Enough with bad expensive food, it’s making me depressed. Here’s what really made my morning shine: BLOODY MARY. Served in a chilled short glass, this Mary is super smooth, thick, tomato-y, spicy. They filter the whole bloody liquid in ice, to get maximum coldness, but don’t use ice so it’s not watered down.

Garnished with cucumber and topped with celery seed, it’s worth a trip to Olsen just for a glass of this resaca-fighting magic.

While the brunch may not be my favorite, they sure have nailed the decor and atmosphere. The outside garden is a perfect spot for a warm summer’s day, while the inside cozy fireplace is ideal for your sexy PDA-induced adventures.  So let’s review: PRO atmosphere, PRO Bloody Mary and other drinks, CON on food.

Rant on the service 2010: Service and wait staff clouded the overall experience and I think lingered onto the food to make it extra bad. It was as if the whole staff were part of a horny zombie club – hugging, kissing, and inappropriately touching each other while ignoring customers.  It took about an hour just to order and get any staff attention, as they walked around in slow motion clearing off my table one glass at a time (each time returning to the bar, chatting with the bartender).  Three separate groups of their friends sat down at adjacent tables – they, of course, were given menus and had their orders taken right away.  I’m usually not surprised when I receive subpar service in ARG, but on this particular Sunday, Olsen may have entered themselves as a contender for the worst service award in BA.

Olsen
Gorriti 5870, Palermo Hollywood
Tel: 4776-7677
Tuesday – Saturday: 12pm – 1am, Sunday 10.30am – 1am

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8 Responses to Olsen: The Original Buenos Aires Brunch

  1. Ana says:

    Olsen was one of my favourite places in BA. I’ve been going there since the mid 2000′s. And agree that the food used to be better. We met up with some friends there a couple of weeks ago – after years of Olsen “abstinence”- and I found the food a tiny bit disappointing. Service was good, though. Not great, just good enough.

  2. what a disappointment! I loved Olsen when I went there a few months back. I hate when places change for the worse. put your press powers to work and send them this review!!

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