We were invited for lunch yesterday to one of Valpo's best known restaurants. Portofino is regularly visited by local celebrities and the beautiful people.
Portofino is pretty expensive by Chilean standards, around 8000-12,000 pesos for a main course but the food more than makes up for it. I had the Reineta alla Pancetta (Reineta with bacon and prawns) and our lunch companions had a conger eel dish, ceviche and one of the pastas, all excellent.
The view from the restaurant is spectacular, taking in the entire bay of Valparaiso. I highly recommend the place for the food and the view.
On the other hand, the service was appalling, to put it mildly. I've done a stint in a fancy hotel/restaurant in France and know what good service is and how to give it. The clowns in Portofino had obviously been trained by monkeys of little intelligence- that's if they received any training at all. One minute we had 4 waiters buzzing around, knocking into us and generally being very annoying and very intrusive and the next minute-when we actually wanted something-they were nowhere to be seen. I had to ask the same waiter four times to bring me some more bread. When he finally did bring me some, he neglected to offer any to the other 3 people around the table. Another waiter needed 3 reminders to bring a couple of soft drinks. And then, when the bill was due, they become all friendly and charming, offering free digestifs. No dice. Crap service=crap tip.
I'm perfectly happy to put up with poor service in a small, cheap or family run restaurant. But when a place styles itself as the place to eat in Valpo then they've got to get everything right. And that includes training the staff. The problem is that in Chile (as in England until just a few short years ago), restaurants can't be bothered to spend the time or money teaching their staff how to wait tables. In Argentina, being a waiter is seen as a worthy and dignified profession. It's the same in France as well. And it shows-waiters know what they're doing. In Chile that's not the case and so it's all too common to spend a fortune on a meal out and get rubbish service.
If you don't mind thoroughly annoying waiters then the food in Portofino is excellent.