This Lastarria bistro is a great place to catch up with an old friend over drinks and a bite…
By Margaret Snook, February 1, 2009
Here’s the panorama: movie and drinks with a friend I needed to catch up with. We caught a film at the Biógrafo (art house) on Lastarria (cool Santiago neighborhood on the eastern edge of downtown) and then looked for a place close by for drinks and picoteo (appetizers). The neighborhood is full of places to choose from, but Don Victorino was hopping, she’d never been, and I hadn’t been in a while, so… decision made.
Set in a remodeled old house, the place has a nice, cozy, bistro feel to it in with colonial-red walls, plenty of refinished natural wood, and appropriately placed antique furnishings. Comfortable and inviting. There’s seating for about 60-70 people in four separate areas: on the street, in the bar, in a second-floor loft overlooking the bar, or in the interior combined patio-dining room. It was pretty full when we got there about 11:30, so we decided on a small table by the bar.
We weren’t very hungry, so we stuck to the appetizer menu… plenty of good choices: tortilla de papa, fried calamari, ceviche, among others, all ranging from about $2500 to $5000 ($5-10 USD approx). We ordered the breaded jumbo shrimp and salmon tiradito (both just under $5000) and a couple of caipirinhas, one of my all-time favorite mixed drinks.
A bread basket with two standard rolls and a little bowl of pinkish salsa appeared very quickly, even though we clearly were not having dinner. Neither looked interesting enough to waste the carbs on, so they went untouched.
The shrimp was fine, nothing out of this world, but done well enough-butterflied, breaded, fried til crisp, and served with an oddly carmine-colored sweet-n-spicy ketchupy kind of sauce that wouldn’t be my first choice, but I wouldn’t refuse it either.
The tiradito, a traditional Peruvian dish made with long thin strips of raw fish marinated in lemon or lime with Peruvian seasonings, was arranged on a plate, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with those yummy Peruvian crunchy corn kernels and garnished with ruffly red leaf lettuce. It was good, but perhaps a bit skimpy for the $4800 price tag-about 8 bucks.
The caipirinhas were good-in the end we shared a third-and if you’ve never tried one, you’ve got to fix that right now. Brazil’s national drink has got to be the best cocktail ever for beating the January heat (we ARE in the southern hemisphere here!)
The service was attentive and friendly, although a bit overly enthusiastic when it came time to clear the table. I felt like the waiters really wanted to get out of there. Points in their favor: We didn’t notice that the 10% tip was included on the check (yes, more places are doing that these days) and would have left another on top of it had the server not brought it to my attention.
Overall impression: Nice, relaxed, and inviting atmosphere. Good place for conversation. Good but not spectacular appetizers, but will wait for the main course before making a final decision.
Repeatable experience? Yes
Price Range: not outrageous, but bring a plastic backup.
Address: José Victorino Lastarria 156, Santiago
Phone: (562) 639-5263
Price: Not cheap. $19.500 tip included