Chubut Province – Comodoro Rivadavia

I arrived in Comodoro Rivadavia after a five and a half hour bus trip from Trelew across the featureless Chubut landscape with not a hill in sight. It’s one of the most uneventful journeys I’ve ever made in terms of landscape (marginally more interesting from the air) but at least I got to write up large chunks of the blog in my comfy coach seat.

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Here’s my Google map with all the places mentioned and more I didn’t get to.

This was my second time in Comodoro (the first in 2004 and now again in 2014) and a lot had changed in the years between. It’s an oil town on the coast, the site of Argentina’s first major oil discovery back in 1907 and producer of about a third of the country’s current output, but other than that it has little going for it. If it weren’t for the oil there’d be no reason to be here.

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The centre is now dominated by tall buildings where there were only squat one or two-storey structures before. Lots of bland estates were also being built in the outskirts so it’s definitely expanding though I’d hate to live here myself.

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The first time I came I stayed at the Luciano Palazzo at 676 Moreno www.lucania-palazzo.com which was an oasis of opulence in the centre of a rough looking town. Now their prices have skyrocketed and my employer has been forced to use the Austral just over the road at 190 Rivadavia, entrance on Moreno, www.australhotel.com.ar.

The Austral is also relatively posh and expensive although I swapped two horrible little rooms (space only around the bed and no curtains) until I gradually traded up to a ridiculously large five-room suite with a sea view for the last two nights, courtesy of my employer.

Tunet, the hotel restaurant, is the best in town, according to Trip Advisor and the local teachers I worked with, but it was closed for renovations when I was there.

The best parrilla would seem to be La Tradicion at 675 Mitre (Tel. 446 5800). I had two very good meals here in the three days I stayed. It’s a formal restaurant of the type you usually find in Baires with waiters in white shirts and waistcoats.

If you can, try to get the old boy (thin chap, balding with salt and pepper hair and a gaucho moustache) who really knows his stuff (all the other waiters go to him for wine advice). His domain is the right corner of the restaurant as you go in, at the kitchen end. The waiters have their work cut out for them here but I wasn’t too impressed with the second guy I got.

On the first occasion he recommended the famous Patagonian lamb, Cordero Patagonico (B+) with an Ensalada Tradicion; lettuce, tomato and onion (B) and chunky Papas Fritas (B+). The lamb was a bit overcooked but that was my fault as I hadn’t specified ‘poco hecho’.

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To go with it an excellent (B+) bottle of 2012 Cab Sauv called ‘Trumpeter’ from Rutini www.rutiniwines.com, one of the best wine producers in my opinion.

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I finished with a decadent dessert and a glass of ‘licor nacional’ Reserva de San Juan cognac (B). The bill came to $600 with the tip, about £30, which was pricey but worth it for me.

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The second time I remembered to order a rare Bife de Chorizo (A) and had it with salad and chips again.

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With this a bottle of Malbec (Newen 2013 by Del Fin del Mundo), again very good (B+).

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I had to finish with something sweet again after this feast and ordered a Panaqueque de Dulce de Leche which hit the spot (B+) but was very expensive at $88 for a single pancake. The final bill came to $436 (£24), which was much cheaper than last time, mainly because I didn’t tip the inattentive waiter.

So a pricey place but with very good quality food that is otherwise hard to find in this town.

The only other place I ate at on this trip was Cayo Coco, around the block from the hotel at Rivadavia 102 and is TA#6 at the time of writing. It’s an informal pasta and pizza joint, both of which I avoid like the plague in Argentina. Instead I made the mistake of going for the ‘breaded langoustines’ after a positive review on TA (when will I ever learn?) but they were most likely out of a bag and were pretty horrible (C) though I finished them due to hunger.

With my waistline in mind I had the Ensalada Caya Coca with extra tuna after that. It was ok (B-) but nothing to write home about, although I am. The best thing was a good (B) Torrontes from Etchart Privado. The total bill was $300 including tip, about £16.

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Afterwards I had an average (B-) Augusta Cognac at Molly Malone at 292 San Martin It bears no resemblance to the stereotype of an Irish pub but was fine for a night cap.

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I was only here for 3 nights so can’t tell you much more. I considered climbing Chenque Hill for a view of the town and Argentina’s largest wind farm, or visiting the Museo del Petreleo in the General Mosconi neighbourhood (a taxi ride away), but tiredness/laziness took over and I never made it to either.

And this was my last stop on my 2014 Argentina tour! Flight back to Baires and then home for Xmas.

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