Patagonia: Torres del Paine food + drink
Restaurante Pehoe – This restaurant had a great view and good Google reviews, but a recent menu change and incompetent staff resulted in the worst meal we had on the trip. On Thanksgiving no less.
I stopped in earlier in the day to make a dinner reservation for 8pm (when they started dinner) and was assured a window table with lake and mountain views. When we arrived at 7:50p it was chaos. Some guests just started seating themselves wherever and instead of moving people, the staff was arguing over who was covering each section and frantically moving tables to accommodate different party sizes. I finally flagged down one of the staff and pointed out we had a reservation for a window table and she looked completely confused. After some heated conversations and table shuffling we were seated at a two top next to the window at 8:20ish. Mind you, all of this running around was happening after dinner service was supposed to start (which was rather late anyway) and guests were getting impatient; I have no idea why the tables weren’t set up and marked reserved before this.
Finally seated, we checked out the drink menu and made our choices for the prix fixe 3-course dinner. They were out of the beers we wanted to try so Eric got the Calafate wheat and I had the Yagan dark ale. For dinner, Eric ordered the pumpkin crema soup and osso bucco (beef), while I opted for the fish appetizer and osso bucco. The soup was quite thin, but a dash of pepper was helpful. (Once you tracked some down – it was a farce, all the tables fighting over the one peppermill in the restaurant that worked!) My fried fish cake was served cold, accompanied by some sad lettuce. I was hungry so I ate it anyway. It took nearly a half hour for our waitress to clear our plates and deliver the second course… and they brought out one osso buco and one chicken? We sent the chicken back and I started on the beef, which was akin to shoe leather. How do you mess up a slow-cooked item?!? Another beef came out a few minutes later and was a little better, so Eric shared some of the less tough parts with me. We just wanted to get out of there at this point but we had to wait on dessert, which took another 20 minutes. I got the flan (fine) and Eric had the nut cake which was actually decent.
Apparently, there was a bar menu you could have ordered off of in the lounge area but we saw half-eaten burgers left behind so I doubt that would have been a better choice. Memorably terrible food and service but at least the views were good! This was the only place where we didn’t leave a tip.
The next day, after the Isla de Los Hielos hike, we stopped in to Rio Pingo for a light lunch. The stout beer we split was expensive (~$8 USD) but really good, with a pleasant smokiness. Eric got a ham sandwich and potatoes (the red seasoning was spicy!) and my salmon ceviche was enormous (and very tasty)!
After our experience the night before, we decided to eat at our hotel on Friday night. Recent reviews didn’t speak well of the buffet-style dinner but when we checked in, the menu we were shown was a la carte. Whatever changes were made, they were good ones. We arrived for the 8pm seating and were promptly given a seat in the window with views of rain clouds coming in over the valley. Eric ordered the Errazuriz Chardonnay and the lamb ravioli with artichoke and sun-dried tomatoes (really good, hearty). I opted for the Errazuriz Syrah (hotel was out of Carmenere) and the guanaco loin (venison like, quite lean) with cranberry wine sauce. I asked for extra sauce as what was on the plate was not sufficient for the size of the loin. My meat was cooked perfectly but the stew accompaniment was just OK, not much flavor.
For dessert we split a small three pie taster which was great, especially the lemon and passion fruit. Overall, great service and pace of the meal, so much better than our experience the night before.