Monday, August 25, 2008

Destination Peru #10: My Gripe with Dinner Shows

When I traveled as a kid with my family, I never liked our tour groups. Although I like the convenience of having everything planned out, I never trust the food provided on these tours. They always have some sort of deal worked out with a less than stellar restaurants to gouge the customers. Just the same, I'm skeptical of asking taxi drivers for recommendations. It was like this when I went to Europe. We were in a Chinese tour group and only ate at Chinese restaurants. Don't ask me how I went through France without eating anything remotely French.

On my trip to Peru, we booked a tour that took care of lodging, transportation and several tours of famous sites. Luckily, they gave us freedom for our meals. One of the few dinners they did provide was at Tunupa. It is centrally located in the town square, and better yet, there was live entertainment. The show consisted of an Andean band playing some traditional instruments and dancers performing native dances.

While the performance was good, the food was not. Though Tunupa has a menu available, the provided dinner was a buffet. In general, I don't mind buffets. I realize that the food is not going to be outstanding so I judge it on a different scale. Even though the alpaca stew and spit-roasted pork were tasty, overall I didn't think it was memorable or spectacular. What bothered me most though, was that it was a buffet. Simply put, buffets and dinner shows do not mix. The dancers frequently blocked the main floor of the restaurant, resulting in diner stuck to one wall while waiting for the routine to finish. At least with wait service the diners are not quite as inconvenienced, assuming that the performances are timed well with each course. If you're going to start a restaurant with accompanying show, please plan ahead. Don't leave me standing with a chocolate hazelnut cake in one hand for four minutes.

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