Oy Vey Chico

2008.Jan.13 Sunday · 2 comments

in Restaurants

“There is such a thing as food and such a thing as poison. But the damage done by those who pass off poison as food is far less than that done by those who generation after generation convince people that food is poison.”

– Paul Goodman, author

Oye Chico - Plato Cubano

Buenos Aires – I hate to condemn a restaurant because of one bad experience, with one single plate, on one particular day. However… commencing 3½-4 hours after lunching at this particular location I incurred about an eighteen hour nearly continuous experience of the “dry heaves” to put it simply (the medical term of “retching” has never quite adequately described it), one of those experiences where you truly just want everything to be over with. Everything. That has left me with the last two days of just plain feeling exhausted, though gradually getting better – I can only hope that putting together Friday’s Casa S dinner was pulled off reasonably well – I almost cancelled doing it, and truly don’t even remember prepping half the food or how I made it through the whole thing – I do know that 5-10 minutes after the guests left I was in bed and slept for 12 hours straight.

Now, as I said, I would normally hate to condemn a place on this basis, except… I noted while eating lunch at the location, a Cuban restaurant called Oye Chico, Montevideo 310, in part of that cool little plaza that connects Montevideo, Sarmiento, and Corrientes and is filled with little venues in which to eat, shop, etc. – that nobody, really, nobody, waited more than about five to ten minutes for their food. The lunch selection is limited – salads, a special of the day, and two items from the dinner menu, a ropa vieja and what I had, the platón cubano. This was a mix of ropa vieja, pork in orange sauce, chicken in onion sauce, white rice and beans, brown rice and beans, plantains, a couple of types of potatoes. All reasonably tasty, but all clearly served up off a steam line… and one which apparently doesn’t keep the food at the appropriate temperatures for food safety.

Given the symptoms I had, my best guess from my knowledge of food poisoning, Bacillus cereus, emetic type – which means rice, beans, and/or potatoes that were kept at a warm rather than hot temperature long enough for bacterial cultures to grow. That’s the kind of thing that I have to assume is endemic to the restaurant – although as the local news has pointed out, there have been multiple problems this last week in the city with food poisoning because of constant power outages and shortages, leading to poor refrigeration and lack of temperature controls. On that basis I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt in theory – though even if true, a thermometer would have told them things weren’t right, if anyone in the kitchen cared. So, in practice – not a place I’ll be back to.

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dan September 10, 2017 at 11:40

I didn’t have a great experience that first and last time. Food poisoning and all. And, as I said at the time, I hate to condemn a place on one incident like that, but it seemed, at least to me, at the time, that it was a lack of attention to food safety rather than a one-off moment. But, hey, it’s been 9 years, and who knows, I haven’t heard of mass numbers of people having had the same problem, so, we’ll give it a try.

There weren’t many people in the place, maybe 8-10, and with three staff members, a waitress, a bartender, and a manager, you’d think they could keep up. But the waitress kept disappearing off to the far end of the restaurant, and neither of the other two made any move to assist. Turned out, they have an entire patio outside in the plaza, and she was also attending to another 20 people out there. In fact, by the time that things turned a little busier, she was attending to 18 tables by herself. Neither of the other two made even the slightest move to help. Needless to say, things took awhile – a solid 15 minutes to place an order, another 15 to get drinks, and 25 after that before food was delivered.

I hadn’t looked back at my previous review before going. So, less variety on the plate than there was the first time, in terms of sides, and about the same quantity – maybe slight more. All of it okay, none of it all that interesting. Hot sauce never did arrive. We had to go look for salt and pepper ourselves. I’m not blaming the waitress, she was doing the best she could, but geez, come on manager, stop hanging around in front of your computer, or chatting with visiting friends, and give a hand at some customer service. Even send the bartender out to help, that might have been good, she wasn’t really doing anything other than occasionally getting a bottle of water or soda out of the refrigerator. And, for 300 pesos, this plate, which was claimed to be shareable for two, was probably 2/3 of the amount of food we got at Cuba Bella, for the same price. And not remotely in the same category of quality. I’ll leave this one as a pass.

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