Vitacura is another affluent district in the eastern part of the city. It’s just to the north of Providencia where I stayed and Las Condes where I worked. As befits Chile’s richest commune, it has some fantastic modern architecture as this quick search shows. Also, some of the Santiago’s most exclusive restaurants can be found along Nueva Costanera, including a couple I’ve been to…
Boragó (Advanced B), 3467 Nueva Costanera, www.borago.cl
Thanks to the efforts of chef proprietor Chef Rodolfo Guzmán, Boragó was ranked at #4 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2016 and is currently #5 in 2019 (so #1 in Chile). My visit was in mid-November 2018.
Guzmán is famous for his experimentation with foraged foods, using local Chilean ingredients and indigenous plants, and recreating ancient techniques and recipes. Diners follow a set menu which can be matched with Chilean wines, or grape juice. I don’t recall the cost but you’re looking at $200 to $250 US with the wine matching. My menu was called the Rock Sequence, I think because everything was served on stone.
Upon arrival I was served this mysterious green drink which I’m guessing was some kind of plankton or seaweed conconction; a very trendy ingredient amongst experimental chefs at the time of writing.
After this the food and wines came thick and fast with complicated explanations from the staff, so I gave up on note-taking.
The first course was Roasted Kolof with Pajarito Cream.
‘Kolof’ (or ‘Coloffe’ in Mapuche, the language of the indigenous people of south central Chile, or ‘Cochayuyo‘ in the Quechua language in the north) is a kind of seaweed that is a century’s old pre-Hispanic food. Pajarito is a tart milk product similar to kefir which comes from the restaurant’s associated farm.
With this came some Pajarito Butter & Freshly Baked Marraqueta Bread, the latter being a wheat roll, similar to French stick, that is popular in South America.
Next, a Chupe of Mushrooms from Quintay, matched with Beso Negro, El Libertino, Petit Verdot, 2015 D.O. Colchagua Valley
A chupe is a kind of stew and Quintay is a coastal town to the west of Santiago.
After this, Rock Vegetables from Punta de Tralca, ‘organized by layers’. This was put with Ventisquero, Tara, White Wine 1, Chardonnay, 2015, D.O. Afacama Valley.
Here we have Razor Clams Cake, Rock Salad & Kolof Broth, and to drink; Laberinto, Cenizas de Bartovento, Sauvignon Blanc, 2018, D.O. Moule Valley.
The main course was Lamb cooked “a la inverse”, Mille Feuilles with Wild Apples from Patagonia, matched to Vinedos de Alcohuaz, Grus de Alcohuaz, Red Blend, 2016, D.O. Elqui Valley. The lamb (B) was the most enjoyable thing I ate, possibly becuase it was the only thing I recognised. What tastes good is what tastes familiar after all.
Then there was a palate cleanser of some kind.
The desserts arrived together. Here we have an Ice Brulee of Bitter Plants from the Atacama Desert (in the north of the country).
My next favourite thing was the Rose of the Year Ice Cream Sandwich. This was with a glass of Domaine Raab – Ramsay, Blanc de Blancs, Brutt, D.O. Aconcagua Valley.
So was it worth the money? Well, I certainly tasted lots of things I’d never had before, however none of those flavours particularly blew me away. My favourite and the most familiar dish, the lamb, only served to make me wish I was having a normal dinner.
Also, despite being a fan of modern design, I found the restaurant to be rather soulless. The white walls with lots of polished concrete and glass gave it a clinical feel and the legions of staff beavering away gave the impression of being in a factory. The staff themselves were very nice and all spoke English very well but as I was served by a different person each time, there was no possibility of developing a good relationship with a single waiter. Overall it was an interesting experience but one visit was enough.
And in 2011 I suffered another disappointment just down the road…
Osaka (Advanced C), 3736 Nueva Costanera, in the NOI Hotel
I love Peruvian/Japanese fusion but unfortunately, after having a fantastic experience at the original branch in Buenos Aires (see my Palermo Hollywood post), this branch was a bit of a let down. Although the service was just as friendly and efficient, the location in a very posh hotel was very different from atmospheric Palermo. The decor is more modern and the lighting is harsher, and the kitchen is less open. No matter, I did my best to enjoy.
Whilst reading the menu I had a Mangoroska cocktail with mango, lime and Absolut Mango vodka (B).
This came with a tiny amuse bouche of indeterminate provenance.
I would have loved to talk with the chefs but they didn’t speak Japanese and at the time my Spanish wasn’t up to the job.
As in Buenos Aires I had the cerviche selection where you choose three from a selection of six. This time I went for the Amarillo (passion fruit and onion) (B) which came with a couple of tiny but delicious deep-fried wontons (A).
I wasn’t too keen on the Thai (B-) which was too gloopy and sweet (ingredients unknown)…
…but the Nikkei (soy based marinade and cucumber) was better (B+).
Next a ‘Tropic’ maki roll with prawn tempura and Philadelphia cream cheese topped with mango and passion fruit syrup. Sweet sauces are a feature of the Japanese-Peruvian interpretation of sushi and cerviche, but this was way too sugary for me (C).
The crab-based Kanicrunch (crab and avocado) was better(B+) but again the rocoto pepper and lemon sauce it came with was too sweet.
Trying to be safe, I next went with a favourite from the Buenos Aires branch. The Terimaki Temaki is a cone of rice with cream cheese, quinoa coated fried langoustines, topped with salmon, thinly sliced lime and teriyaki sauce, the bottom half of which was great (A) but yet again the sauce seemed much sweeter here (C).
To drink I’d gone with another bottle of an old favourite, a Sauvingnon Blanc from the Garuma vineyard in the Leyda valley, which is a great wine (A) but too dry to go with all the sugary choices.
I ended with a sushi classic to cheer me up, Salmon Nigiri (A) which it’s hard to go wrong with. It seemed a bit strange however having this savoury taste after so many sweet flavours.
To finish I asked for a limoncello but they could only serve it with crushed ice frappe, for which they charged me $7,800. Let’s get that straight, that’s over ELEVEN POUNDS for a tiny shot of an average drink that wasn’t even served properly and would be free in Italy. I should have argued but I didn’t want to ruin my digestion, which I regret now as they should have been told. Ah well, onwards and upwards!
Back to 2018 and after Boragó I went for a cocktail just up the road at María Callas www.mariacallas.cl at 3750 Nueva Costanera. I had a Negroni made with Licor Bitter Araucano, an amaro (digestive bitter) with origins in Italy. The secret recipe, over one hundred years old, contains twenty three herbal ingredients. It’s the only other spirit other than Pisco that I came across in Chile although the producer does have quite a range.
So is Vitacura a neighbourhood to avoid? I’d still go back if there was another interesting restaurant to try but there are mid-range places elsewhere where you’ll get a better deal (see my Bellavista and Providencia posts for example). Don’t let me put you off though, you might enjoy the adventure more than this old grinch and they still have better food than most places I’ve eaten in Chile.
A stroll around my favourite barrio next…