Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekend Restaurant Review: The Quimbombó Quilombo!

Thumbs WAYYY down for  Quimbombó, the worst restaurant experience that I've had by far in Buenos Aires! It's a shame, because I really wanted to like the place.

The following contains a lot of complaining, so proceed with caution:

Cynthia lives near Quimbombó and is a regular there -- with her laptop -- for lunch, coffee, and people watching. She had told us about the place and thought we would love the ambiance and the food. So a couple weekends ago we decided to meet there for lunch.

We met her in front of the restaurant at 1:55 p.m., where she had scored a nice table along the sidewalk. Buenos Aires is notorious for extremely slow, or rather, "leisurely" service. Nice if you want to relax and not be hassled by the waitstaff, but very annoying if you are pressed for time, or are actually very hungry or thirsty.

To make an excruciatingly long story shorter, we waited the BsAs-typical 30 min.+ to actually be approached by our waitress, and then we repeatedly asked her to take our order, to which she would reply "en seguido" (right away) and then baffle us by walking away or rushing off to help another table or deliver whatever was in her hands to someone and not return, etc.

Well, luckily Cynthia knows who the manager is, has talked to him, has a "frequent customer" punch card, etc. She decided to go speak to him. Again, to cut out a lot of the amazing details that were accompanied by our actual hunger and thirst -- we were sitting out in the sun, remember, and had neither had our water orders fulfilled, nor had the complimentary bread basket or place-settings been brought out.

The manager seemed concerned and said he would attend to it right away. In the States you might expect him to personally apologize, comp something or at least bring the water, bread, etc. to the table himself. What did we get from the manager of Quimbombó? Nothing. Nothing at all. He continued to stand around near the hostess at the entrance, trying to appear busy. Very strange and extremely irritating.

It did seem that our waitress had received a talking-to, as when she next came to our table she seemed very morose and later was sniffling. I kind of felt bad for her, but hoped maybe this could open the door for her to find her true calling in life one day (not waitressing).

We eventually placed our order, which our waitress couldn't seem to remember no matter how many times we repeated it, and she didn't seem to want to write down. It was nearly 4:00 p.m., two hours from when we'd arrived! It was amazingly incomprehensible, even knowing the extremely low level of customer service that one should expect in Buenos Aires. I know, I know, I'm being a total rant.

We moved to a table indoors at that point -- the point at which we actually should have just left -- and the service did not get any better. Cynthia even mentioned our ordeal to some of the waiters she is "friends" with, who appeared to commiserate, but then also did nothing. Argentine waiters are a whole 'nother breed.

The atmosphere is really cool, I'll give Quimbombó that, but everything else was a total turnoff.

We got the food, which we shared equally. It was nothing special at all, we paid, left and walked around a street fair and then went home.

Fast forward to the next morning -- I awoke alone. Where was Neil? I soon discovered he was in the bathroom, where he had been and remained for several hours. Until, almost like clockwork, I found myself in the same situation. We ended up laughing about the hilarity of the fact that we apparently had food poisoning!!!!! Perhaps our waitress found revenge? We thought it would be even funnier, in a terribly ironic way, if Cynthia had it too: Then we'd KNOW it wasn't the dinner we'd had at home, but was from "lunch" at Quimbombó. I called her. Sure enough, she had been sick at night, too.

"Quilombo" is a not-very-nice Argentine word for a total mess. That's the only word that describes the similarly named restaurant, Quimbombó.

And, without further ado, the chronicle of our "adventure."

Almost there, hip stores on one side, the feria, or street fair, on the other.

Our first table, on the sidewalk.

Once the guys at the table behind Neil left, three different parties sat there and left, irritated at not once being approached by the waitress. I regret not doing the same!

Once we moved inside, these hipsters were at the end of our table. I liked the communal table, I've seen that in a few places here. Good odds there -- one guy (at the head of the table; I know, it's hard to tell with the Argentine mullet) and six ladies :)

The cute little old lady in the background was having tea with two elderly gal pals. They were so cute, and the lady pictured was so in love with Nile! She said she couldn't resist, and had to come over -- she only had sons and grandsons. Later on, she came back and said she couldn't resist the temptation, she just had to kiss Nile's little foot! Um, ok?! So I removed her sock, and she grabbed and kissed the bottom of her foot. I guess it made her day!

Our faithful manager in the background, looking ready for action with a walkie-talkie on his hip.

Three levels of quilombo.

I admit, it's a beautiful place though!

The beautiful people.

Who takes pictures in the bathroom? I guess I do. It looked really cool though! And had refreshing open windows looking across the roof line and balconies.

There's our trusty manager in the plaid "talking" on the phone ...

The food arrived! Lamb stew, teriyaki chicken, curry fish. I shudder to look at this picture.

 No turning back. "Let's get out of here, baby girl!"

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