We had some superb meals in Santiago. Astrid y Gaston wasn't one of them. The colonial house has charm, but it's a rabbit warren, a hodge podge of rooms. You can land a great table downstairs with a view of the kitchen, a table in a corridor, adjacent to the bar, tucked away in a niche, next to the bathrooms, it's a crap shoot. The food was good, not brilliant, acceptable. Not what we expected based on reviews and not as good as elsewhere in Santiago. The service was very good, in that it was formal, the wine steward really knowledgeable. But oh-my-god did it take forever to get food. FOREVER. All around us people waited and waited and waited for food. Everyone was antsy and picking at bread and bored. At one point I heard an American a few tables away say quite sternly "I'm not going to sit here all night!" Hear hear.
It took a long time to get starters, which I thought might be a glitch, but when I saw all around the same thing happening it was painful, tiresome and ruined the evening, which was a special birthday night. It took, from the time we sat down until the time we were served our mains, 102 minutes. For a deuce! And this is one of the best restaurants in Santiago? Give it a rest.
The service staff are professional. That wasn't an issue. You can see through a glass wall the large, well-staffed kitchen. They were working. So either they have too many tables or are disorganized or, and this is what it seemed to us, there are some serious communication issues at stake between kitchen and floor staff. It reminded me of the Seinfeld episode with the car rental: You know how to take the reservation you just don't know how to [serve] the reservation.
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