San Telmo

14 Meyers Place
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9650 5525

San Telmo 01

Let’s start with a summary.

1) The vibe here is great.
2) Food was pretty alright, albeit pricey.
3) They lost my booking.
4) I was spoken to very rudely by a waitress right before we left.

You may want to read on to understand what happened.

San Telmo 02Inedit – Catalunya, 750ml Weat beer hand crafted by the team from El Bulli restaurant 19.5

I came here with Cousin Trouble, Geek Hubby, Big Sis and Fakegf. I booked online via Dimmi, which was what San Telmo’s website used for bookings. Dimmi sent me a confirmation eMail stating “Your San Telmo reservation is confirmed. You do not need to call the restaurant”. When we arrived at the restaurant, my booking wasn’t locked in and we did not have a table. Before arrival, I’d actually double and triple checked that the booking was correct, so there was no mistake on my part, somehow the booking system failed here. I was disappointed because most of my guests were visitors from overseas and I’d planned everything months in advance.

San Telmo 03Estrella Galicia – Lager – Galica Spain 300ml 8.5

The waitress suggested we wait at the bar right at the back and maybe we could squeeze into a table at the alcove-like outdoor section at the back. My companions were happy with that. We stood around for about half an hour before a small round table was available. Honestly, that table probably could only sensibly fit 2-3 people, and mainly for drinking. So with five of us, it was quite an almighty squeeze, but we just took everything in stride and decided to make the most of it and enjoy the atmosphere at the back of the restaurant.

San Telmo 04

After we placed our orders, I went back into the restaurant and asked for permission to take photos of the place, since the feel and vibe there was so lovely. I explained that it was for a personal food blog that’s generally friendly. The waiter/manager said sure, but half-jokingly said ‘only if you say nice things about us’. Anyway, with their permission, I proceeded to spend 5 mins roaming about the space snapping little scenes of this Argentine bar. I was really liking it, half-wishing they had not lost my reservation so that we could’ve had a proper table inside.

San Telmo 05

Then again, the noise levels were quite high inside, so maybe it was a good thing we were at the slightly quieter alcove, with an opening into the back laneway holding a gentle night breeze. My companions were quite content sitting around our tight squeeze of a table too, so I did not feel as flustered about the whole situation in the end.

When the food came, after some juggling of glasses and table implements, we somehow managed to all eat without things falling off the table. In fact, in its own comical way, it was quite fun, spontaneous and enjoyable being out there eating like this!

San Telmo 06Ensalada de palmitos – Palmheart, pear, jamon & buffalo mozzarella 16
Zapallito y berejenas – Grilled zucchini, eggplant & roast garlic 10
Zanahorias – Burnt carrots, thyme & goat’s cheese 12

These vegetable selections were not too bad. The palmheart reminded me of a less pungent version of bamboo shoots, and I loved the Jamon in that dish. The other two were just decent sides.

San Telmo 07Bife de chorizo en la costilla – 400g striploin, dry aged on the bone 47
Lengua y Mejillas – Grilled tongue and braised cheek 19

We did not order that much between the five of us anyway, having had a 6-hour degustation lunch at Loam a mere few hours before our arrival here. These two meat dishes we shared were quite exquisite though. The tongue was soft, unctuous and succulent, and the braised cheek reminded me of lamb. I also enjoyed the grilled flavour of the striploin, although some of us thought its edges were on the dry side.

Around this point, the waitress told us they actually could move us to a proper table. But we’d already figured out how to manage our ‘eating life’ out there, so we were happy to stay outside. The waitress at this point apologised and said she hoped we would still have a good time. To be honest, at that point, I was enjoying our night! The atmosphere was pleasant outside, food’s decent, I’m with great company, and I could still feel the hum and buzz of the bar from where we were.

San Telmo 08Flan de dulche de leche – With caramel salted peanuts 14
Alfajores – Argentine cookies filled with dulche de leche 5

Before we knew it, we were already on to desserts. We had a very Argentine thing, the flan, which I believe we enjoyed. The cookies had the citrus of oranges in it and were too sweet for me, but fakegf liked it, they reminded her of Christmas.

So despite the frazzled service, lost booking, and squeezing the five of us into a ridiculously small table, I actually had a good meal here…

San Telmo 09

… that was until when we were on the way out, I snapped a few photos of this cute (Amazonian?) beer tap on the right. Then all of a sudden, a waitress came up to me and said in an incredibly rude, abrupt, and condescending tone “Excuse me. No more photos. It’s just… tooo much??”. She then strode off.

I blinked… stunned at being addressed so rudely. Then said “okay” and walked out… still unsure of how else to respond. Fakegf was with me then and she was quite taken aback that I was spoken to that way.

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I actually liked my experience at San Telmo. But that one sentence the waitress said to me destroyed my night. Service staff should never speak to their customers in such an offensive manner. For such a high profile restaurant, I was surprised and disappointed by this turn of events. There are at least a hundred nicer ways to phrase “no photos” to a customer. I have been ‘told off’ at other restaurants before, but the staff have always been polite and respectful about it. And that rude waitress should remember that a photographer or a food blogger is still a customer, we paid to have our meal.

Cousin trouble was shocked that I was told off like that. As a restauranteur herself, she told me that you either give a person permission to take photos or not. You don’t say “yes” and then suddenly rudely tell them off ‘no!”. And to be honest, even if that waitress did not know that I was given prior permission for photography, the manner in which she spoke to me remains unacceptable for anybody who’s working in the service industry.

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