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La Esquina Latina Review

Rakhi Sinha is all meat-ed out at a Chorlton filling station

Published on November 10th 2011.


La Esquina Latina Review

LA ESQUINA Latina is a carnival for carnivores, all you need to truly enjoy it, is a massive appetite.

Having said that, the quality isn’t bad, although we did have some gripes - namely that there wasn’t much steak in the meaty feast 

I wasn’t entirely sure how a predominantly meat eatery would go down in boho Chorlton, where Elbow’s Guy Garvey once slipped on an avocado and the veggie Unicorn Grocery often runs out of chickpea noodles, but for a Tuesday evening, La Esquina Latina was surprisingly busy. And with a very mixed clientele - couples, groups, friends - all ready to chow their way through a whole farmyard.

Like Bem Brasil in the city centre, La Esquina serves up meat by the bucket load. It keeps on coming until you defeatedly turn over the ‘samaforo’ (traffic light) on your table from green to red to signal that you can’t eat another sausage.

Unlike Bem Brasil, however, La Esquina Latina caters in food from all over Latin America. Also, they don’t have waiters walking around with skewers of meat to carve at your table. Instead diners receive a plate with an assortment of chunks of meat to graze on.

What that meat is doesn’t seem to matter though. The friendly waiter when asked didn’t know exactly what meat or cuts he was serving up. We guessed at chorizo sausage, chicken, pork belly and rump steak.

It seems the only important thing at La Esquina is to fill yer boots, quantity rather than quality. Come hungry, they advise.

Having said that, the quality isn’t bad, although we did have some gripes - namely that there wasn’t much steak in the meaty feast (£17.50 per head) and it was all well-done with no option to choose how you would like your meat cooked. A shame when the bbq’d flavour of the steak was tasty, but the texture leathery.

The platter comes with a garlicky, vinegary, chimichurri sauce, which lifted the chargrilled flavours of the meat somewhat. You also get unlimited trips to the buffet bar.

There’s a hot and cold section to the buffet. The cold section has a variety of salads including a lovely grape and apple salad and tasty marinated olives. There was also a good potato, pea and carrot salad, which was similar to the classic Spanish tapas, ensaladilla rusa. Sadly the hot section of the buffet was disappointing - brown in colour and lacking in flavour.

Coldbuffet

They had a rice dish which had beef in it, maybe, I couldn’t really tell because it was all completely dry.

There were some shrivelled potato wedges, of which the waiter said he was going to get a fresh batch, but never did. The chickpea and sausage stew could have done with more salt, as could have the tortilla. The chilli was alright, and there was also a beef stew which I gave a miss because it looked like it had been sat there for a while.

The place itself is simple but smartish with wooden tables, various South American ornaments and nice lighting. But beware of the weighty, high-backed leather chairs which come crashing down when you get up. They’re as heavy as I felt after a few trips to the buffet.

Diningarea

It’s not all meat, just mostly. There was a special of Cajun cod, and there are a few things on the menu for vegetarians too - frijoles (black beans) and roasted vegetables (£12.50) which also come with buffet sides. Personally, I think all of the above would be better on the buffet to offer more variety to non-meat eaters.

There were no desserts on the menu and we weren’t asked if we wanted any at the end of our meal. Being Latino, the bar is well-stocked. They had a good selection of wines, with a Merlot and Chardonnay by the glass (£2.50-4.50) and plenty of bottles, including a Spanish red and white Rioja (from £13 -19.95). All the classic South American cocktails are there too, Pisco Sour, Margarita, Mojito, Caipirinha (£5.75).

La Esquina Latina is all right, ok, but it needs to raise the steaks with its buffet and include a few more veggie and fishy options. Asking diners how they want their meat cooked would be good too. 

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. 

La Esquina Latina
380 Barlow Moor Rd, Chorlton, M21 8AZ, 0161 881 2230

Rating: 12/20
Food: 6/10
Service: 3/5
Ambience: 3/5

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away.

 

Thebuffet

Entrance

Hotbuffet

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19 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousNovember 10th 2011.

the photos arent selling it!!!

IzzyNovember 10th 2011.

That buffet wouldn't even pass muster at an airport Holiday Inn - it looks truly vile. It's *stakes* by the way or am I missing the irony?

Jonathan SchofieldNovember 10th 2011.

It was a deliberate mi-stake. Ho, ho

Richard HJNovember 10th 2011.

Went there for my birthday last weekend with a few friends and really enjoyed it. A little rough round the edges at times but that's fine. Often that makes for a more relaxed atmosphere if you're there for the long haul - which you should if the food keeps coming. Friendly staff. Buffet, salad bar etc is an awful lot nicer than the pictures suggest. Swerve the red Rioja and head for the Merlot though...

AnonymousNovember 10th 2011.

This review is mainly spot on, though I thought the stews were decent.

ChurlNovember 10th 2011.

Review is right. Fun but crude.

Carolyn O'hanlonNovember 10th 2011.

I am veggie, and didn't realise how meat heavy the menu would be when I chose to eat here.

The veggie dishes weren't really my cup of tea - a little too salty and watery for my pallet but they felt authentic. However I did enjoy the buffet side of things which tasted quite nice and fresh. I felt at the time that by eating the veggie options I wasen't sampling the best of the menu and this review supports that.

I did however really enjoy the atmosphere and service. The owner came over and chatted with us and we were even invited to join them on a night out at copacabana. I love the owner's idea of doing salsa lessons here with light bites on the side - I think I would be more likely to come to that to another sit down meal here.

Guy LancasterNovember 10th 2011.

a buffet restaurant that wont let you eat just buffet. And if you over order the a-la-carte items, you cant take them away - fair 'nuf if you were talking buffet items but not fair if you have paid for a specific menu dish.

Guy LancasterNovember 10th 2011.

Service a bit slow and veg-options a bit weak too.

Alix JacksonNovember 12th 2011.

good food,really nice quality meat and salad,maybe the chill could be more spicy and some cheese on the side,good service,beer on tap would be good but a good selection of new beers.recommended

AnonymousNovember 15th 2011.

My comment will probably be deleted but I know someone was att@cked by one of the chefs as they werent happy with the food, not the main chef I must point out but I believe that the chef that att@cked the customer is still working there! I won't go into detail as this will definately be deleted but you make your mind up

1 Response: Reply To This...
MancinNovember 15th 2011.

When we went and complained about the food the chef was a little short and aggressive so I can believe this! It's absolutely crazy what you have posted!

AnonymousNovember 15th 2011.

Bad food!

AnonymousFebruary 11th 2012.

First visit today for lunch, and our last.The restaurant is beautiful. Soup to start was lovely-the rest was not! Our sizzling meat platter was brought to the table-not sizzling one bit-while our starter dishes hadn't even been cleared!! The meat dish consisted of cheap cuts of pork, 2 sausage & 2 pieces of chicken in a tasteless waterery sauce. Chips were frozen french fries.
Staff were very disorganised and some not dressed at all professionally to be serving food!

AnonymousFebruary 15th 2012.

very bad food!!!!!!! me and my partner eat out atleast once a week and this is by far the worse place we have ever visited! the buffet food is ok but the meaty feast for £17.50 a head is bad beyond belief, you could go out and get a good quality steak meal cooked the way you like it for this price rather than this poor quality rubbish. Like stated in blog, although la esquina advertise bringing meat on scewers to your table they do not, you cannot choose which meat you eat and dont eat they just give you a plate of mixed meats which consists of.... cheap sausage that i would not feed my dog, chicken, beef that was so cremated it was impossible to chew and we spat it out, soggy shop bought fries and vegatables (even though you have just filled up on veggies from the buffet). We asked if we could have some more beef cooked medium rare and this came medium well done but as this was an improvement from the first lot we tried this but again had to spit it out as it had grissle and thick fat viens running through it, very bad cuts of meet indeed. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!

AnonymousApril 2nd 2012.

Blog rating of 12 is exceptionally generous. either that or its gone hugely downhill since. i couldn't rate it higher than 5 and all that would be for the decor. food is horrific and the staff really shouldn't be in the restaurant trade

NorthernGeezerApril 4th 2012.

Yer cant polish a turd eh, quantity over quality NEVER works.

AnonymousApril 5th 2012.

Firstly apologies for a long post but i feel it is needed to get across how bad this place is.

I and 3 friends visited La Esquina Latina on a Sunday afternoon at 4 after making a reservation. We had a groupon voucher that can be viewed here

www.groupon.co.uk/…/4119465…

On arrival we were seated and a drinks order was taken, the waiter spoke very broken/little English. The restaurant was empty apart from another couple on the next table. Despite this however, 10 minutes later drinks had still not arrived back. As we were all hungry we thought we had best find out how the food worked as we hadn’t been told by our waiter. Being frequent visitors to Bem Brasil who also work on a traffic light system (as advertised by this place) you get a plate on arrival and waiters constantly buzz around with the next chunk of meat which you can take some of if you want it. La Esquina didn’t work like that even though on their own website they say they do. We had to go up and ask for plates and ask how it worked. They told us we could start on the buffet and that they would start our meat.

The buffet was a mixture of hot and cold food, or supposedly it was. The "hot" food was all cold, not even slightly warm, it was stone cold! We told the waiter and he said he would bring some fresh food out (always reassuring!). Of the bits I tried the coleslaw was nice but the other cold bits I would happily leave. 15 minutes later (our drinks had finally arrived too) I went back to get some potato wedges as I was very hungry and the meat was nowhere to be seen. The wedges had not been replaced and were still cold.

Around 45 minutes after being in the restaurant a small platter of meat arrived at our table, presumably meant for one person. We left it in the middle waiting for the others to come out but none did. We asked how long the others would be and were told that all we get!! He said he would put a second one on but it would be a while. What an absolute joke. The platter consisted of 2 small chorizo like sausages, maybe 6 chunks of chicken and equal amount of ham. No steak and no fish although advertised on the offer. The meat quality was ok although a little overcooked. It certainly doesn’t rival anything like Bem Brasil serve up. Not even close.

After a few chunks of meat my partner decided to go and try the buffet again hoping to get some warm food. When she asked if the food had been sorted they said that the heaters had been broken and that the food was now being re-warmed! From the looks of the wedges and the stew it had been sat there hours and god knows how many times it had been re-warmed. Environmental health would have a field day in this place! So we were all left once again sat waiting around and picking at coleslaw.

As the second platter had been around 20-25 minutes and there was no sign of it coming out we decided to go and ask for the third and fourth platters to be put on if they were going to take this long. At this point a waiter came over and said that each plate after the second one would now be £20 each. We pointed out the voucher was all you could eat meat and fish and they said the voucher was wrong! These guys seriously had no clue whatsoever when it came to customer service. They were very defensive and overly rude, happily shouting at us in the middle of the restaurant.

In the midst of having to argue for our all you could eat meat (we had given up on fish by this point as it was clear they didn’t have any!) the second platter arrived which we ate within 2 minutes it was so small. We asked to speak to a manager and was told that "he" was in a meeting and wasn’t contactable. However 10 minutes later we were told we could speak to management.

My partner took the call and explained our issues with the slow service, the cold "hot" buffet, the nonexistent all you can eat meat and fish and the rude staff. She was verbally abused down the phone and told to leave before they called the police. It’s no surprise the staff are as rude as they are when they have these kind of people in management! Have none of them EVER heard of customer service? Funnily the "manager" was female despite being told earlier it was a male called Douglas.

Even though we were the only booking of the afternoon (we were there nearly 2 hours) the service was so slow and the staff almost seemed surprised that they had someone in who wasn’t one of their mates. One waitress came over at one point and said something along the lines of "there seems to be issues at this table" which we took as a good sign as she may be able to help. However she proceeded to tell us all about her kids in America that had to call between 4 and 5 and that’s why she hadn’t been serving. We decided to tell her our issues as she seemed to understand English and thought she may be able to help. However she did nothing, just went over to her mates at the bar and no doubt slagged us off.

In keeping with my reviews where I always try and paint a fair picture, the restaurant did have some good points. The decor and the venue were lovely and the toilets were very nice. With a decent restaurant placed here I believe it would be very successful. Just a shame it was being run by complete idiots with no idea how to cook food or serve customers.

A couple who came in to eat saw the commotion going on and the waitresses shouting at us and decided to leave. If you ever read this (you were a couple in your young twenties who came in around 5pm on Sunday Apr 1st) you made the best dining decision ever!

Pat HolmesApril 25th 2012.

Been today (Wednesday 25.4.12) with my husband. We'd never been before. I bought a £21 Voucher ( a 3 Course meal for 2) from Key 103. We were greeted at the door and shown to a table. The waitress was very attentive and friendly. The soup and hot bread were delicious, followed by a sizzling platter of hot meats - beef, pork, chicken, and onions and peppers, a dish with rice and chips and another with coleslaw and salad. For dessert we chose Strawberry Gateaux with cream. We couldn't fault it! I've read the above comments, but speak as you find and we enjoyed a relaxing meal in a pleasant environment! Give it a try!

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