A Night Out At La Estancia/ El Gardel: The Non-Smoking Law is a Joke

For Valentine’s day this year, we thought it would be a good idea to combine two things I love: steak and Latin music. So it seemed only natural to go to La Estancia, an Argentinian restaurant in Gemmayze, that sits right above El Gardel, a pub that plays a great mix of Latin and pop.

It’s definitely nice that some effort was put into setting the mood: they had heart-shaped candles and (fake) rose petals on the tables, love songs playing in the background but not loud enough, so we could actually talk to one another.

Now I don’t know if it’s fair to give an opinion on the place given that they had a special menu in place for the occasion.

But it was also a four course meal: we shared the salad and smoked salmon, the ravioli and the dessert- and each got a main dish.

I loved the Chevre salad: goat cheese, beets, toasted pine nuts, and mixed greens with a light refreshing dressing. I had never tried it before, but now it’s one of my favorites. The salmon isn’t anything to write home about: your standard fare of smoked salmon with some lemon drizzled and good chunks of bread on the side.

The second course was the ravioli: two pieces arranged like a heart in a plate topped with more marinara sauce than any person could ever need. At first, it tasted a bit funky, and not in the good way. I did like the pasta and the sauce but something felt off with the stuffing, which we were told is spinach.

Which brings me to the main course. I was expecting a nice juicy cut of beef but ended up getting a filet stuffed with spinach with some sort of sauce on top of it And honestly, I couldn’t even taste the meat until I removed the greens- it was too overpowering and not at all enjoyable, it reminded me of the traditional spinach and rice dish my mom makes which I hate. The mashed potato on the side was absolutely perfect and fluffy and the mixed veggies were okay.

For dessert, we got a crepe, also heart shaped, with caramel sauce, whipped cream, and an ice cream scoop on the side. It wasn’t too sweet, which made it an awesome finish to the meal. Was it the best crepe I’ve had? No. But it was still good.

Now here’s what bugged me the most- and I think this should be a serious concern raised!

Remember in Lebanon, we worked so hard to get non-smoking in closed spaces to become a law: Law 174. Now fast forward a few years later, and the law is barely being enforced. I can understand how some places have found the loophole with having half-open places and letting people smoke or being arguile-types of places.

But at La Estancia and El Gardel, there is no such thing with people smoking their hearts out, disrespecting the fact that others just wanted to have a nice dinner with their sweethearts.

I kid you not. We were sitting at our table, waiting for the bill to arrive, when the men on the table next to us lit cigars! Cigars! In an indoor space, without even an open window in sight. We only spent 2 minutes in their company and I was suffocating!That bill could not come fast enough!

Why should I have to suffer if you’re breaking the law? I don’t need to go into the scientific evidence of second hand smoking to tell you how harmful it is.

Things were equally as worse when we went down to El Gardel, sitting by the bar and enjoying the music and singing our hearts out, the smell of smoke was unmistakable. And again, I’d like to stress that this is a totally closed space and no one was saying anything to anyone!

I think the policy is if you don’t like it, don’t come here. Or Law 174 has truly become a joke in the midst of all the food safety campaigns, they forgot to include this very important element that costs so many lives.

Which sucks because they really do play good music and we had such a good time dancing. I can’t give a review on their drinks because I don’t consume alcohol and had my standard order of Diet 7Up.

It could’ve been the perfect evening had it not been for the fact that we smelled like we, non-smokers, had smoked a cigar and maybe 3 cigarettes. The whole mood they tried to set was ruined by allowing people to come and show off with their cigars and what not.

Something needs to be done about this so not many more dinners are ruined and lives are lost.

Rating: 3/5

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