Restaurant Review: Chalet la Suisse, Santa Cruz, Bolivia



I hate to write bad reviews of a restaurant, but I had an experience so overwhelming that it simply must be done. My wife Chary, the Zen Master, and I went to have lunch at Chalet La Suisse. A beautiful restaurant it is, with bright cheerful alpine influenced decor and pretty little dark-skinned beauties in Swiss-miss outfits bustling around in the sunlit high ceiling rooms.

Now, we have eaten there many times down through the years. Sometimes it was great and sometimes it was not so great. I have tried numerous items on the menu that were excellent. Once or twice though I felt really let down, even cheated, by the quality. But hey, Chef Trent is a realist and sometimes restaurant kitchens produce failures due to the staff not behaving properly and not paying attention to precise preparations.

Things happen to even the best of us, oh foodie brethren, and we all know it. But there is no room for a bad recipe and this is where I will jump off into what I hope will be my last rant ever.

Chefs listening around the world: Taste your own food before you serve it!

My wife and I both ordered the turkey stuffed with spinach and sun dried tomatoes in curry sauce for the same reason anybody orders a dish: It looked delicious in the description and because that caught our imaginations. So this is what they brought us: A beautiful presentation with rolled turkey slices spilling over with a filling of spinach. It looked so inviting! Then we tasted it.

You know that moment when you look into each other's eyes and realize you have just made a horrible mistake? Like when you kiss one another after only one of you has eaten a lot of garlic? We had that moment.

The sauce was a mixture of ketchup, mustard and curry. I am a chef and I know. My wife is the Zen Master and she spiritually divines such things. It was like when you order asparagus and you just know it comes from a jar.

"This is ketchup!" she said. And of course, as usual, the Zen Master was right.

I must admit that it takes a lot of nerve to try and pull off a stunt like that for 98 Bolivianos a plate. It takes an utter lack of respect for the palates of one's clients to attempt to prank them at such exorbitant expense.

Let's assume for argument's sake that it was not ketchup. Let us assume that it was a highly complex fusion of sauces, herbs and spices... composed to taste like ketchup. Why would anybody do that unless they think that, in the restaurant world, they have achieved such a lofty status that they do not need to care anymore; because they believe people will still continue to dine there despite being insulted by their product.

We did not complain though. We walked out smiling. We smiled in the knowledge that we were not being served this concoction in a prison somewhere relying on it for survival. Yes we were free. Free and happy to know that we can choose to dine where we please.


Fridays in Paradise with Chef Trent Wauson
Published 4 April 2014

Chef Trent Wauson owns the La Luna Verde Resto Bar and La Posada del Sol boutique hotel in Samaipata, Bolivia. He contributes his favorite Bolivian recipes, restaurant reviews and food commentary on www.BoliviaBella.com. Visit Chef Trent's Food Page on BoliviaBella.com for more.

Comments for Restaurant Review: Chalet la Suisse, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

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Apr 07, 2014
The whole ugly story!
by: Chef Trent

What you are reading is the tip of the iceberg. I don't like to rant, but I definitely do not like long rants.
My wife and I ate there about a year ago. She wanted trout but only likes pink trout and so she asked if that was what they were serving. The waitress went to the kitchen to inquire and came back saying that they definitely had the pink.
When the trout arrived it was not pink. We showed the waitress the dish, she left and came back with the chef in tow. (You can see his photo on their website.)
He began to labaste us about our lack of knowledge of fish, showing us a raw trout on a platter that was pink. This he did in a loud voice with other guests at tables nearby listening. We did not argue with him.
We decided to give the place one more try the other day. When it didn't work out we left. I hope now you will understand why.

Apr 06, 2014
Bad experience...Good experience
by: Anonymous

Dear writer... I am always loking for great places to ahve dinner and I always compliment them if the food is great and the service is even greater... why did you not speak to the management and lewt them know what your experience was like? Bad or not I always let the managemnet know... how else can they improve????????????? If you are a chef you would appreciate the same... or in any business... customer service in number one for return guests... Please let me know what you think!

Apr 05, 2014
Chalet la Suisse
by: Steve Baker

The unfortunate experiences are always the hardest and least fun to communicate, but truth is always better than its opposite. Good job, Trent!

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