There are times when the table manners your mother taught you don’t quite measure up to the challenges that life throws your way. So it is when you are confronted with mozzarella and olives to be eaten out of champagne glasses on a bed of salad. The fish, rabbit, venison and lamb main courses, however, are a little more run of the mill in the table etiquette department, as is your table-bound champagne glass, which you will never see the bottom of.
Jean Paul Bondoux has acquired quite a reputation in this part of South America, opening restaurants in Punta del Este and Mendoza to accompany this Alvear Palace Hotel headquarters. He’s the kind of Frenchman that dresses in chinos, Ralph Lauren shirts, suede loafers and kisses you on the cheek every time he laughs – a charming man and an inventive chef.
Head downstairs to La Bourgogne’s basement instead of the main restaurant, where jazz bands perform live on Friday evenings. It’s a bit of a conversation basher, as the sax player (eyes tight shut, of course) and drummer (likewise) fill this former wine cellar with their hypnotic sounds. La Bourgogne’s basement is an upmarket and original environment for a date you need to impress. Jean Paul’s cookbooks are on sale upstairs.
Once you’ve impressed, Cartier, in front of the Alvear, will sell you the ring.