Opening night at Los Argentinos (Edinburgh’s own Fawlty Towers)

I almost don’t know where to begin with this one! After an amazing trip to Buenos Aires earlier in the year where I consumed more than my body weight in Steak (gaining myself the nickname Steak Girl), I was really excited to learn that there was an Argentinian restaurant opening up near Causewayside, for weeks we’ve been waiting eagerly for it to be ready and last night was the opening night.

It’s fair to say we went in with high expectations but even so, Strawberry Blonde and I have probably never been quite so vexed by a restaurant. The signage and appearance had a distinct whiff of The Buffalo Grill, albeit a more austere version, about it and entering the premises was a trial in itself. (2 sets of swing doors, both really stiff and only one door opening in each set, yes, you’ve guessed it, the same door). We were taken swiftly to our table by our charming ‘Manuel’, very smiley but with a tenuous grasp of the English language. He proudly told us that he was the only Spanish person there and on enquiring if the owners were from Argentina, we were told no, Bangladesh! The restaurant was full but mainly with students (they can clearly afford to eat better than in my day).

The wine list was disappointing, the House wine was Spanish?? and there were only two Argentinian reds and one white, after having sampled many delicious vintages of each in BA we were feeling a little frustrated and we got a sense of the evening becoming a somewhat different dining experience to the one we had envisaged. Prices £10.95-£23.00 for the wine, a limited selection of sparkling and one Rose. A good range of Bottled beers though and remarkably a Taittinger at £45. For us it had to be a Malbec so we went for the more expensive £20 bottle as the other looked a little light for a hearty steak dinner.

‘Manuel’ was highly entertaining and much hilarity was had as we resorted to Spanish as an easier means of communication. The menu was pretty basic with the usual steakhouse staples, starters were all around £3.95-£4.50 and we went for the classic dish of empanadas (of which we had also sampled plenty in BA) and Chorizos Caseros. For the mains it had to be Steak, unfortunately there weren’t any of the more unusual cuts and the Assado (BBQ) Mixed Grill Platter for 2 that had looked quite tempting comes on one plate that isn’t heated (unlike the tabletop Assado’s that we had loved in Argentina). The Specials were simply a Steak with a Sauce and were priced from £14.95-£22.95. We went from the Solos Carnes steak menu and opted for a Bife De Lomo (Fillet) £14.25/225g adding a pepper sauce for myself, a mushroom sauce for SB and chips each. We weren’t asked how we would like our steaks cooked & on asking for mine ‘blue’ I was horrified when with a smile I was told ah, well done! yikes!

Chorizos (yes they did charge £4.25 for this)

Before the starters arrived we found ourselves in conversation with a gentleman from the next table who had already had the pleasure of the full dining experience there, he told us with a wry smile that it had been ‘interesting’ and that they had a side salad with tinned kidney beans and sweetcorn so when asked by the owner for feedback, they felt they should mention that it would be much better to have fresh salad ingredients only to be told earnestly that it WAS freshly tinned sweetcorn!!!

Empanadas (& the ubiquitous sweetcorn!)

The starters arrived and we were a little taken aback to see a plate with 2 breakfast sausages on it and some salad garnish, surely this wasn’t the lovely Argentinian ‘chorizos’ we had be expecting? Apparently it was and I can categorically state that they have no place on an evening menu, tasty as they were, they needed to be nestled between black pudding and baked beans! As for the empanadas, the beef one was fine but we discovered that the other one contained sweetcorn??? Argentinians have 3 main types, Beef, Chicken or Cheese, where did sweetcorn come from?!

Moving on swiftly to the main course, the steaks arrived and looked great, and to be fair it was one of the best steaks I’ve had since BA, unfortunately it was cruelly spoilt by what could only have been a packet sauce. The chips were also pretty good but came in two massive bowls, each easily enough for two people. The chimichurri sauce on the table was delicious and looked to be home-made although the plastic spoon sticking out of the pot didn’t really make it that appetising. The garnish was also hilarious, SB had lettuce, tomato & cucumber, mine was just a wisp of lettuce.

the only saving grace were the Steaks!

It was such a massive disappointment and the most inauthentic ‘themed’ restaurant I’ve ever eaten in. I’m not sure whether to be more angry at the insult to my intelligence or to my pocket! Based on the menus and wine list I can’t believe for a minute that the owners have ever even been to Argentina.

The scorings, the bathrooms got a 7/10, the service, through no fault of ‘Manuel’s, was a 5/10 and the overall score a generous 3.5/10, saved only by a fantastic steak. Edinburgh’s very own ‘Fawlty Towers’

To be fair it was the opening night but if I were to summarise it would be that everything but the steak needs work. A free liqueur coffee at the end of the evening did little to make up for the £60 bill for a very substandard offering.

Los Argentinos, 28-30 West Preston Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9PZ

Should you wish to try it out for yourself 0131 668 3111

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24 Responses to “Opening night at Los Argentinos (Edinburgh’s own Fawlty Towers)”

  1. October 1, 2010 at 9:04 am #

    I notice that there website is still unfinished, half of it makes no sense! Would have expected that to be ready in time for opening night at least.

    • October 1, 2010 at 10:09 am #

      On an opening night you can forgive the unfinished decor, the tardiness of the food, inexperience of the staff and the unfinished website (which clearly borrows all photographs etc from another restaurant that is a well established part of the franchise in Holland) but the rest was really inexcusable

  2. Mafalda
    October 1, 2010 at 7:59 pm #

    I haven’t tried the restaurant yet, but hope to try it soon, to have my own opinion. But just a comment: sweetcorn empanadas really are very typical in Argentina, contrary to what Nadine thinks! (Argentina is not just Buenos Aires, and sweetcorn empanadas are common in different parts of the country). And by the way, sweetcorn is ‘choclo’ in South America, not ‘chocolo’ as it says on the restaurant menu on the web. And nobody in Argentina says ‘mantequilla’ as they say in Spain (we use ‘manteca’ for butter). So, the menu certainly was not written by an Argentinian (and probably not even by a fluent Spanish speaker).

    • October 1, 2010 at 9:31 pm #

      Hey there, thank you for your comment, it’s really great to hear another view! we tried many different types of Empanada when we were in South America (although sweetcorn wasn’t one of them it’s fair to say). I’d be really interested to hear what you think of the restaurant when you visit though, we were gutted to have to have to score it so low and we didn’t consider, the unfinished decor, slow service or untrained staff, the steak itself was fantastic and I would be happy to try it again when things are a little more settled. please do let us know

    • German
      October 12, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

      good for you Mafalda… for most of the people, Argentina is Buenos Aires and Patagonia… As Argentinean, I can say that there is a lot of different places and landscapes to know.
      And the “sweetcorn” empanadas is a very tradicional one… this fill is called “humita”…

  3. Suparno Deb
    October 1, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

    It only opened. Give it some time and it will gradually become good.

    • October 1, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

      I really hope so! the steak itself was fantastic & Edinburgh could really do with a great authentic Argentinian restaurant, would love to hear about it if you visit…

      • Suparno Deb
        October 3, 2010 at 9:45 am #

        I heard that the Los Argentinos Staff are happy to welcome you again to the Steakhouse. This time their hope is that they made a big Improvement and you can give it another Shot.

        • October 5, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

          Thank’s that’s really good to know, although it would be an expensive mistake to make twice. I shall eagerly wait to hear good reviews of the restaurant and might then consider a return visit.

  4. October 5, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    Got to be worth a visit, even if it’s just for Manuel 🙂

    I know Argies are really into their grilled meats. So anything less than a third of a cow on the plate would be anything but authentic 🙂

    • October 5, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

      ‘Manuel’ was just adorable! if you do go I’d recommend going straight for the steak, it was fantastic but i’d check if the sauce is freshly made! (the steaks I consumed in BA were of epic proportions!)
      Can’t believe this post has been viewed by over 600 people! Seems like people are much more interested in bad reviews than good ones!
      Who knows maybe i’ll get the chance to give this one a complete re-write in the future

  5. Alex
    October 7, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    I understand you’ve had a bad experience at this place, but show me ANY restaurant that has perfect service on its opening night!? Many restaurants in Edinburgh started off with rough edges and developed into excellent places, which this one may do as well. I think your ‘blog’ does more harm than good.

    What’s wrong with the owners coming from Bangladesh? Perhaps they’ve lived in Argentina? I am Scottish, but having lived in Indonesia for over a year, feel that I could make a typical Indonesian curry just as well as a native.

    I too, have been to Argentina many times and eaten a lot of steak, but like many round the world foods, when replicated out of the home country, it’s never the same.
    Two examples – Any Nepalese restaurant in Edinburgh doesn’t serve ‘authentic’ Nepalese food – it’s variations. I would kill to have a plate of authentic dal baat served in one plate and eaten with hands, but it’s not done like that over here.

    Chinese food has been ‘westernised’ for over here – not even Chop Chop serves authentic Chinese food found in China and how it’s eaten (messily and slurped from a bowl).

    I don’t know what your qualifications are to become a ‘food critic’ but you should think before you publish a negative review which may cripple a business before it has the chance to find its feet.

    I have no association with the restaurant, but everyone deserves a second chance

    Another diner on opening night on twitter declared he had an excellent meal – so perhaps yours was just a one off bad experience.

    • October 8, 2010 at 10:46 am #

      Since when do you need to be ‘qualified’ to have an opinion?

    • fiona
      June 15, 2014 at 11:26 am #

      If you want an authentic Nepali dhal baat – go to the little restaurant in Cockburn street and ask them – they made me one – which I happily ate with my hands!!
      At the risk of being “smart” – and I don’t mean to be ……………… Nepali people think it’s hilarious that Brits call them Nepalese as, apparently, only Brits do it – but then they call themselves Nepal”ese” in their own restaurants in this country – go figure!

  6. Ewan
    October 8, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    Interesting comment, Alex. Do you comment in a similar fashion on TripAdvisor posts?

    While ‘authenticity’ is a troublesome term at the best of times (and I mostly agree with your issues on that subject), the focus of this article is far more about the mislabeling & inconsistency of the food that was served. I read no malice into it (especially when compared to your post) and I therefore respectfully disagree with your somewhat vitriolic statements

  7. October 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    Thank you for all your comments, it’s great to get such varied feedback and I’d be delighted to publish a guest blog/review if anyone dines there and has a different experience.

  8. Mary Kemp Clarke
    November 23, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    Empanadas de choclo / humita… corn… delicious. Also for Fridays empanadas de atún… tuna… and so on – every region a wealth of styles and types of empanadas. The best of course, always to be eaten “a patas abiertas”.

  9. Silvia Sejas
    January 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Hi! I´m from Buenos Aires, living in Barcelona Spain.
    I´ve been in Edinburgh 2 weeks ago and I visited “Los Argentinos” believing that its owner was from Argentina.
    When I asked the waitress I was really surprised He was from Bangladesh! did you notice? all the menu es bad written in spanish and he mixed the dishes names!
    what a pity!

    • January 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

      Hello there & thanks for your comment! Firstly I’m very jealous that you come from the beautiful BA! :0) can’t wait to return! But you’re right it was pretty badly done regardless of where the owner comes from. We had so been looking forward to a slice of Argentina in Edinburgh and were so disappointed, the potential was enormous but so many corners were cut!
      I hope you still enjoyed your visit to Edinburgh though & I’d love to hear of any restaurants that you did find that ‘hit the mark’

  10. January 27, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    I ate here courtesy of my Korean couch surfer. I had been keen to try it since I first heard about it. I was a little embarrassed as he paid a lot of money for a very average meal. I didn’t even rate the steak that highly.

    • January 27, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

      Yes, I agree on the price David, we had one bottle of wine, 2 starters and 2 steaks and had a bill around £75 I think, bit of a slap in the face after such a poor dining experience. Even less amusing is one of the early comments which I’m guessing was something to do with the restaurant suggesting I should maybe go back (at my own expense) and give it another go! er-hardly!

  11. Marcela
    June 2, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    Hello everybody!
    I’ve been there a couple of months ago, and I have to say that as Argentinean, this restaurant well represent China! There’s nothing similar between this restaurant and the argentinean food. The empanadas with mix of vegetables and peas were the greatest to discredit the place! And as Nadine said, what is the signage as the best Buffalo grill style??
    And the sauce that they present as “chimichurri” is not that! I guess that the mixed recipes!
    Any other argentinean in Edinburgh or near about??

  12. Sarah
    August 13, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    Had a horrendous experience at Los Argentinos tonight, which was made all the worse because I had eaten there several times previously and had no issues. I made a reservation but phoned up to move it to a later time and was told that was fine, there was no problem. However on arrival, when I gave my name the manager came over waving a piece of paper with my name and the earlier time on it and when I explained the situation he denied all knowledge of the change in reservation and seemed to imply I was making it up. We were eventually begrudgingly directed to a table and were a little taken aback but sat down. He then came over beaming saying that someone in the kitchen had taken the call and that “I was right”. I waited for more but nothing was forthcoming, and so I politely asked whether he was going to apologise for suggesting that I was a liar. He then repeated that he had told me I was right but that if I didn’t like it, the door was that way and then he walked off. My parents and I were FLABBERGASTED by his rudeness and after one last attempt to get an explanation for his terrible attitude we left in disgust. This excuse for a restaurant manager clearly has no regard whatsoever for customers, he probably thought we were tourists and that he could treat us however he liked. I would honestly say the food here is great but the service is appalling so be warned folks.

    • August 14, 2011 at 8:58 am #

      oh what a shame, bad service always makes me so cross as it’s unnecessary and feels like a big slap in the face, it must be even worse when it’s somewhere you’ve eaten several times before and could be considered a ‘regular’. looks like they just lost themselves a good customer though, more fool them!

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