Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Convento San Ramon Nonato





“Let us take lunch again in the monastery garden at Convento San Ramon Nonato”, I say to Maria Cristina, my lawyer friend from Recoleta.

It is nearly five years since we last met here for lunch, and you may read about it in an earlier blog. You will recall its history: ‘the place where in 1806, the Spanish immigrants of Buenos Aires gathered to swear allegiance to their cause - the removal by force of their recent British overlords. After 46 days of occupation, William Carr Beresford was forced to surrender to the Spanish general, Santiago de Liniers, and the Rio de la Plata was returned to Spanish control’. 

Today, the Order of San Ramon stands surrounded by banks with its church to the right side, the cloisters being open to the public for the service of midweek lunches either in the large cool dining room, or from white linen covered tables in the cloisters garden.

    

We meet early at 1230 pm. Lunch in Buenos Aires generally starts just before 1 pm, and will last through to 3 pm or beyond. We wish to beat the rush and have the pick of the garden tables before the bankers, lawyers and office workers arrive. And so it is, for when we get there few tables are occupied and we have our pick.

Lunch comprises both a la carte menu and ‘menu executivo’. We opt for the latter, providing a three course meal with wine at 330 pesos (on today’s exchange rate between £12-13) and start with cheese Milanese followed by pork, chicken, beef, fish or salad. To finish we each select a large chocolate mousse. It has to be said that unless you venture a la carte, lunch is a basic but filling meal. Yet in one of the prettiest enclosed gardens in the city, simplicity is appropriate. 

Today being sunny and fresh the benches scattered through the garden are occupied, and small groups of friends and colleagues sit on the grass. Some have brought lunchboxes, others simply lay back to enjoy the mid March warmth.




It is hard to imagine the busy streets of the microcentre surrounding the convent, traffic congestion in nearby Corrientes, the Reconquista bank deliveries, Florida and Lavalle thonging with lunchtime shoppers. Here, that press is replaced with a calm oasis where the only sounds are the hum of fellow diners, birdsong and the tolling of the convent bell.