We went to a long-time favorite restaurant, 1880 Parrilla in San Telmo just one street from La Boca, as an early birthday celebration for my husband. It's a long trek (walk to subte, go to the end of the line, then walk for another 30+ minutes), but we've been going there for many years and have always enjoyed not just the food but the 1940's decor and the congenial staff, including Oscar who has been a waiter there for 26 years.
This time was no different. Having eaten 'way too much, I asked to take the larger part of my bife de lomo home, and I also ordered an extra chorizo to take with us. As we were about to leave, our waiter became a little stressed because our go-box seemed to be missing. But he eventually brought it, smiling and clearly happy with what was possibly his largest tip of the day.
Odd that the plastic bag was tightly knotted on top, since go-boxes here usually consist of a plastic box wrapped in paper and placed in an open bag. But we didn't pay any attention until we got home and I went to transfer the lomo and chorizo into refrigerator containers. Cutting my way around the knot in the bag, I opened the wrapping and instead of half a bife de lomo (540 pesos) and a chorizo (85 pesos), I found no lomo and two barely cooked chorizos. Was this done by Oscar, our long-time waiter? By the asador, not telling Oscar? By the encargado?
I was mad as a hatter. If they'd been honest and admitted that they had discarded the steak, that would have been one thing. But to substitute a raw sausage for it, say nothing, and cover up the offense by knotting the bag so there would be no chance we would discover the cheat until safely away from the restaurant? A completely offensive act, and a sneaky one.
I called and spoke to Carolina, who seemed to know exactly what I was talking about before I completed the description. Or maybe that was just my suspicious assumption. Asking where we lived (they have delivery now) and hearing Palermo, she said they would have sent out a replacement, except that they didn't deliver that far. Please? You admit that you or your staff created the problem, but you won't pay the delivery guy to take it a little farther than the usual delivery area, to make it right?
I am sure that if we returned and explained the situation again, they would replace the steak (or, probably, PART of one), but because that would involve 2.5 hours of travel time for us, that's not going to happen.
In the end, it is not the loss of a chunk of meat that bothers us; rather, it is the loss of a restaurant that we always counted among our favorite places to go, because who would want to return to a place that would intentionally cheat its customers?
And why would a restaurant do such a thing, not just to years-long, recognizably repeat customers, but to ANY customers? Not only is it a dishonorable way to conduct business, but it is a sleazy sleight-of-hand practice that is absolutely guaranteed to be found out and not mistaken for an unintentional act.
We are truly disappointed and actually sad to be losing a restaurant that we considered to be a place that would always be welcoming and would make us look forward to the next time.