Cool place; great food… service? Room for work…
Did you ever notice how some people are just not cut out for service? And how much a difference it makes in how you feel about a place?
Last night a group of friends decided on the spur of the moment to go get a drink and a bite. Someone suggested Jofré… Great place; I’ve been there several times over the course of its 6 or so years in business… Low-key Latina bistro type, set in a renovated cité with small dining rooms and a nice terraza. There’s cool artwork on the exposed adobe walls, the kitchen’s open to view, and the wine list is printed in colored chalk on an enormous board on the wall…
Food wise it’s a keeper too. The menu usually offers 4–5 reasonably priced dishes determined in accordance with the daily market finds… (in fact, the menu is printed daily). But last night we were there for drinks and apps, so I didn’t even check out the main courses.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First impressions first. Let’s start with one foot in the door…
We arrived at 8:50 (which is on the early side of a Santiago evening). The waitress met us at the door with a startled look… which was odd… we were dressed appropriately, no scary tattoos or intimidating face jewelry, no swearing, no pushing, no shoving, in fact, we were behaving like the professional adults that we are.
Did you call? (no)
Why not? she demanded. You should have made reservations… (Well THAT was very welcoming, nice to see you too…).
Four of us came in together and we told her that another 2–3 were on their way.
But I already have several reservations… (She drawls it out slowly, and to make sure we get her point, she extends her arm for us to observe the attractively appointed but very empty room). You know you should write down our phone number and call first.
I couldn’t help but remember my husband’s stories about working as a classical guitarist in a hoity-toity hotel restaurant, and the Maitre’D who reveled in making people squirm as he glowered at them and dragged out his favorite sneer, “Noooo… ti-en-e… me-saaa” (so you don’t have a table……)… Shouldn’t we beyond that these days?
She was nearly beside herself, and my initial reaction was to turn heel and leave. I don’t need someone lecturing me at the door about how to reserve a table. Okay, I get it, this is not my grandmother’s house and she is not going to be glad to see me any time I decide to pop in. But… if she doesn’t want our business, there are plenty of other places in town that do.
But my friends were oblivious and just looked at her til she found us a table. An excellent table, actually, in the back by the bar, and as it turned out, we had the whole section to ourselves; so what was all the fuss?
She emanated her holier than thou throughout the evening, although I must say that we enjoyed ourselves despite the attitude.
Oh! You’ve finished all the bread already….
A bottle of Tres Palacios Merlot, a Tiger beer, and a Paceña, along with Daditos de Carne (cubes of beef in a rich sauce), Grilled goat cheese with arugula (yummy), and Corvina tartar (this ceviche-type dish was my least favorite of the three, but it still disappeared pretty quickly). We had originally ordered the Mollejas (sweetbreads), but were told they would take too long.
Oh… you’re not ordering dinner? Hmm, then give me back the menus…
At one point our conversation turned to a new restaurant that had opened recently, and she actually contradicted the person who was talking… Excuse me? It’s not that I think that waiters should be invisible, and I do enjoy a bit of light conversation with them, although I pretty much draw the line at someone interrupting a guest’s conversation to contradict them… wouldn’t ya think?
Most people think of service in terms of competence, but this was not an issue. Her order-taking skills and ability to get things on and off the table without mishap were just fine. But the part about making guests feel welcome and comfortable? Not so much…
The bill (including tip) came to $30,000 pesos for 6 people. Not bad.
Food: Good, tasty, sufficiently innovative
Menu: Updated daily in accordance to the market offer
Wine list: Good
Beer list: Good
Ambiance: Cool, informal, comfortable (dress up or down, as you prefer)
Service: 1 step forward, 2 steps back…Needs some work…
Address: Jofré 388, downtown Santiago
Phone: (56-2) 635-1927 (be forewarned, she really wants you to call first!)