I wouldn’t be able to justify a blog about Colombia if I hadn’t written about Andres Carne de Res, the omnipresent institution that seems to have played a big part in defining the cityscape and consciousness of Bogotá.
There is nothing quite like Andres, and writing about it may risk misrepresenting it. Filled with mismatching bits and bobs that would seem to work only in Andres, the ever-awing restaurant/bar/disco turns into a tourist spot, leaving all foreigners the same impression – ‘What a place!’ Colombia may not have Disney, but she has Andres. Being the epitome of Colombian life – wonderful colours, good food, good music and enjoying life to the max, it’s also a popular choice among locals for special occasion celebrations.
The overwhelming amount of decoration in the four-storey club at the Northern end of the city doesn’t try to fit into any particular style or theme. Wooden tables and chairs that seem to have been taken from a ranch are surrounded by bright colours, lights and hearts, making Andres look like an energetic and surreal barn that could have belonged to Dali..
Minimalist is less of a concern for Andres than ‘devil in the details’ is. There is so much going on that you start wondering who is the crazy mastermind behind the scene. The stairs are adorned with playing cards’ clubs and spades. A bar top made from compressed beer caps. A milk bucket at the entrance serves up small red plums to the waiting impatient guests. (Don’t expect a table without a reservation.) A tequila station sets your mood straight with a complementary shot as you climb over the intricate heart shape cast iron gate.
Above all design features, it’s the extraordinary number of hearts in Andres that stands out. It’d be a nightmare if you ever have to play a ‘count the number of hearts’ game there. They come in all sizes and forms, lit or drawn, embossed or collaged. They are everywhere, from a sea of hanging heart lamps reminiscent of the red-light district, to the one that’s made from Redbull cans, the toilet flushes, and even the key chain of your cloakroom belongings. They are on your drinking glasses, the water bottles, the coffee jugs, and also appearing as confetti.. Rather than looking gimmicky, they give Andres an undoubtedly magical aura. They make Andres look like a bar in heaven. All of the hearts appear with ‘Andres D.C’, which stands for de corazon – ‘of the heart’; it’s also wordplay that parodies the full name of Colombia’s capital, Bogotá D.C, Bogotá Distrito Capital. In addition to arousing a warm and fuzzy atmosphere of romantic love, the hearts in Andres symbolise the earnestness and passion for having fun, Bogotá, Colombia (of course, in that order!).
As fun-seekers eat their sizzling steaks from hot metal plates and drink the strong concoctions from totumas (a kind of tropical fruit), others dance around the tables. It’s a different kind of clubbing experience, in a way that it’s not pitch dark so you can really see the girl whom you’re flirting with. Music, mostly Colombian and Latino, is loud enough for the dance-enthusiasts but still allows room for decent conversations. Waiters are dressed in their butcher style red leather aprons. Entertainers disguised in special costumes such as policemen and mockery characters go around tables with a brass band to jazz up the mood..
We can trust Bogotános who look to Andres for the reassurance of good quality food and a good night!
A patacón ‘pizza’ served with hand-painted a metal containers offering frijoles, guacamole, chicharrón, hogao (a tomato salsa) and cheese toppings.
Andres D.C.: Centro Comercial Retiro, Calle 82 # 12-1 a 12-99
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