One of the things we did after we moved to the apartment was to be sure to walk 2-3 blocks in every direction to see the types of stores and things available. But being unfamiliar with the street names and orientations, this resulted in sort of a "Where was that wine store?" and "Where was that cheese shop?" and even "Where was the shop with BOTH wine and cheese?" The cheese shop, for instance, may have disappeared into a black hole. We never found it again. Along our explorations we also would take a look inside restaurant windows and examine their menus. I have developed a sort of sense about restaurants, and usually can pick a good one. Yesterday we had stumbled across a place that "spoke" to me, even though it was closed and had the unlikely name "Brut Nature." We made sure to record in our minds where it was and how to get there, and we resolved to go there for dinner tonight. Fortunately it was right there where we left it, and we arrived at the slightly early hour of 9:30 PM. Looking in the window, we could see that every table was fully occupied with locals, all well dressed and definitely giving off an upper class feeling. K tried the door and found it locked. The proprietor, after hearing one or two words from us, switched to English to explain they were open, but completely full. He suggested we try again in 15-20 minutes, and then locked the door back.
We walked down the street to a small market to replenish our supply of eggs. This was no easy task. Eggs in South America are not refrigerated, and they are kept on the bottom shelf somewhere in the middle of the market. With help from the meat counter we found a dozen and made the purchase for just under US$2. A leisurely stroll allowed us to arrive back at the restaurant 15 minutes later. After a few minutes the proprietor let us in and allowed us to wait in the reception area, standing, while a solo diner paid and made his way out. We then took his place at a small table for 2 in the corner. Chez romantic! It was easy to see we were the only non-locals in the room. Right next to us were two couples, around 65 years of age, enjoying wine and talking up a storm. The men sat across from each other, and the men held one conversation while the women held another, making sort of an audio X across the table. K was in range of the women, and noted that one spoke English on occasion. She guessed that she was American.
Our dinner was excellent. Calamari appetizer followed by mixed grill for S and filet mignon with mushrooms for K, one of the most expensive bottle of wines on their list (about US$12), water, dessert, etc. Really delicious. Near the end of the meal I was reading the available coffees to K, and one of the men took notice. I was pronouncing the word "cafe" as "COUGH fee" rather than "kaff hay" so my American accent was very striking. The men turned and asked in passable English where we were from. "United States" was our reply, and they pressed for more. As it turns out, one man was quite familiar with our home area in Utah, based on his experience as a professional ski racer. He was Chilean and lived in Santiago with his American wife. The other fellow was Argentinian, a lawyer, whose wife was from Montevideo, Uruguay. We spent the next half hour or more chatting in English and had a wonderful time discussing world events and the relative merits of South American countries. The Chileno let slip that he had competed in the 1968 Winter Olympic Games, which was the one in Grenoble, France, that was completely dominated by Jean-Claude Killy. A little Google magic and I see that he is probably Richard Leatherbee, a quite well-known and beloved sports figure in his country to this day. It was a pleasure to meet them all. I provided them this blogsite, and our lawyer friend provided his contact info. Good to know a lawyer in every country, I suppose.
We were among the last to pay our check and take our leave, and I was happy to leave a big pile of cash for the excellent meal, amounting to about US$48.30 including 10% tip.