Archive for the Chile Category

Santiago – Party time in Bellavista

Posted in Bellavista, Chile, Santiago de Chile with tags , , , on December 16, 2011 by gannet39

Bellavista is the place to come for nightlife in Santiago, especially if you’re a young student type. The main bar street is Pio Nino which is always heaving with people but there are quieter places on the side streets coming off it. I only had one brief night here so can’t say too much about it, but I ate and drank well so here is what I know…

Barandiaran (Elementary A) Patio Bellavista, Constitucion 38, Tel. 737 0725

Patio Bellavista is a large complex of shops, bars, live venues and restaurants. The restaurant is down one of the side passages and not very well signed, but if you ask the security guards, they will point you in the right direction.

As I mentioned in the last post, Peruvian food has an excellent reputation throughout South America and this is a good place to come and eat it on the cheap. The ambience is more modern and quite plain and simple in comparison to its older, more atmospheric sister in Providencia. The service is good and they know how to pour a beer (Cusquena from Peru (A)) and mix a stiff Pisco Sour (A).


I started with Choclo Huancaina, kernels of giant maize with a pungent sauce of goat’s cheese and yellow Aji peppers and a couple of olives which were non-descript individually but when tossed together were an excellent combination (B+).



For the main, Cordero a la Nortena, that is southern lamb cooked in a northern style (a sauce of tomatoes, onions, reduced red wine and ‘Peruvian spices’; probably cumin, garlic, coriander and a couple of different chilli powders) with some great white rice on the side. It wasn’t a looker but tasted really good (A-).

Cordero a la Nortena

After this I went for a drink at Venezia at 196 Pio Nino, (a former haunt of Pablo Neruda whose third house, La Chascona, is just up the hill). It’s primarily a restaurant, although there are a few stools at the old bar where you can have a beer and a sandwich.

Although not much to look at from the outside, it has an atmospheric, woody interior and plays much more downtempo music than that being pumped out by its more modern neighbours. If I’d had time I’d have come and checked out the food but I never got the chance.

VeneziaIf the frenetic activity on the main strip is not your thing, the parallel street of Constitucion is a lot more chilled. I’d had a tip that Etniko at Constitucion 172 was a good place to go but didn’t realise you had to reserve a table to get in (Tel. 2 7320119). However,  when I said I only wanted one drink, the friendly English-speaking greeter found me a spot to stand by the wall with a shelf to put my drink on.

I had the house cocktail, something called a Luciano, made with Pear Wyborowa, grapefruit juice and topped up with tonic, which was very refreshing (B). I really liked the atmosphere here; lots of beautiful young people scoffing huge plates of sushi to a soundtrack of cool house music. There’s a separate small room where you can go for a dance after eating. This would be a great place to go with a group of friends.

I only dipped my toe in, but Bellavista looks like the area to come to if you’re a hedonist and don’t have to worry about a hangover the next day. To get there on the metro, get off at Baquedano walk north over the river. You’ll need to get a taxi back though as the metro stops quite soon after midnight.


Santiago – Peruvian food in Providencia

Posted in Chile, Providencia, Santiago de Chile with tags , , , , on December 15, 2011 by gannet39

Peruvian cuisine has a great culinary reputation throughout South America and I’d have to agree that the best food I had in Chile and Argentina was made by Peruvian chefs. Ingredients from Peru have travelled much further abroad too, for instance, Italy’s beloved San Marzano tomato was a present from the King of Peru to the King of Naples.  And of course Peru is where the potato was domesticated about 7,000 – 8,000 years ago, before being brought to Europe by Spanish explorers. If you are near Lima, you can even go to the International Potato Centre where they have over 5,000 varieties. I can’t wait to go visit the country one day but it the meantime I had to make do with these places.

Astrid y Gaston (Advanced A-), Antonio Bellet 201,

Gaston is a celebrity chef from Peru and Astrid is his Swiss wife. They have eight restaurants all around the Spanish speaking world so it is highly unlikely that they will be doing the cooking.

Astrid y Gaston

Anyone who sets themselves up to be the best is going to take a lot of flak as several negative reviews on the net show. Although they are in a minority, it’s true that if you make the wrong choice of a main course, you will probably get a bad impression. Some of the criticism on Trip Advisor is unfair however, for example people who get upset about waiters asking for a tip, which happens in every restaurant in Chile. The moaners need to understand that in Chile (like the US) this is how waiters make their money as their set wage is really low. At least they ask if it’s ok first.

Anyway, with regards to the food, I think the guaranteed way to enjoy this fusion restaurant is to go for the tasting menu so you will get at least a few things you enjoy, if not all of them. It’s reasonably priced in my opinion; I paid $38,000 (about £55) for five courses, which included the optional wine matching add on. Each of the five glasses (all Chilean wines) I had were excellent.


Also, make sure you reserve as it’s very popular. I got in by reserving a table for when they opened at 8pm on a Monday. Perhaps ask to be seated in the main room where you can see the chefs at work in the glass-walled kitchen, rather than the upstairs which is a bit dark and out of the way.


While perusing the menu and munching on their excellent bread, I had an Aquaymanto (A)… aquaymanto.jpg …a Pisco Sour cocktail made with the addition of juice from Physalis berries from the Peruvian mountains, here stored in honey which the barman let me try a spoonful of. The orange berries in their papery husks are sometimes used as decoration for salads and other dishes which is where you might have seen them before.


The starter was four samples of other starters from the menu. My favourite (A+) was the Camarones Crocantes, Ecuadorian king prawns deep fried with panko breadcrumbs with orange-honey sweet and sour sauce.

Camarones Crocantes

With this were Ostiones, a Peruvian scallop covered with a citrus foam, something I’m not keen on usually but this was ok (B). ostiones.jpg

My least favourite was Nobles Causes del Peru, a thick yellow puree of mashed potatoes and lima beans, which was tasteless (C), but topped with Chilean king crab, which was great (A).

Nobles Causes del Peru

Finally, a Classic Ceviche of white fish, red onion and red pepper, which was fine (B) if nothing special.

cerviche.jpgWith this, a glass of excellent ‘Nimbus’ Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca 2010 (A). The sommelier told me about the background of each wine when he brought it, excellent service.

Sauvignon Blanc

Next a fish course of Salmon Confitado (creamy risotto with zucchini, aubergine, bell pepper and caramelised shallot (I got one tiny square of each) with a topping of rocket and watercress. The forkful with the shallot was the best (A) and the salmon skin was delicious but the rest fairly mediocre (B).

Salmon Confitado

The ‘Las Brisas’ Pinot Noir from Leyda went well with this (A).

Pinot Noir

Following this a spaghetti dish in yellow sauce whose composition (it looked like tomato and passion fruit??) eludes me sorry, but again covered with a big glob of frothy green foam, which made me wonder if the chef didn’t like me (sorry but that’s always my first thought!).


It was ok (B) but I was particularly blown away by the wonderful Carmenere  ‘Casas Patronales’  2009 Reserva from the Valle del Maule D.O. (A+).


For the meat my least favourite dish; Corderito de la Patagonia, the famous lamb (B) ‘cooked and glazed in its own juices’ with a brackish Adobo sauce (C-) (a marinade of vinegar, tomatoes and spices) and topped incongruously with a quail’s egg.

Corderito de la Patagonia

With this some ‘native’ chips, which I took to be sweet potato (C) and a scoop of rice cooked with peas and kernels of giant maize, with the rice taking on the taste of the corn, which was delicious (A).

Nice rice

The Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Vielles Vignes’ 2009 from Chateau Los Boldos was another good match for the meat (A).


Finally for dessert, Suspiro (Peruvian soft toffee) served with a raspberry sorbet (B), Arroz con Leche (rice pudding, never one of my favourites) (C).

Suspiro and Arroz con Leche

They also gave me Picarones (soft doughnuts) with vanilla icecream, bland individually but great in combination (A).


With this an excellent Moscato de Alexandria by cantina Tamaya called ‘Sweet Goat’ from the Valle del Limari D.O., the only dessert wine I had while in Chile and a very good one (A).


So all in all, a very good, but not fantastic experience, except for the wines which were exemplary,

After all this, I retired very happily to the bar to see what they had in the way of digestifs. I went with the obliging bartender’s choice of Chilcano de Pisco, a mix of Pisco, limon, angostura bitters and ginger ale, which was very good (B+) if a bit long for my very full stomach.

Chilcano de Pisco

The bartender also let me try sips of both Chilean and Peruvian piscos, both excellent but tasting quite different. Apparently the Chilean variety is usually dark as it tends to be aged in oak, whereas the Peruvian type is always clear as it is distilled in copper and aged in glass or steel. It was originally distilled by Spanish immigrants living in wine producing areas as a replacement for aguardente from the home country (read more about the history and differences here). Although there is a Peruvian city called Pisco, the name probably comes from the pots used for making it.

Peru vs Chile

There are many cocktails that can be made from Pisco but I tended to stick with variations of the Pisco Sour, the ‘national cocktail’ of both countries, or you could have it with coke which goes by the unappetising name of Piscola in Chile.

Barandiaran (Intermediate B), Manuel Montt 309-315, Tel. 236 6854

Part of a chain (see also next Bellavista post) of mid-range, straight up Peruvian restaurants, this branch is located in an atmospheric old building in an older part of Providencia. It’s best to book ahead to make sure you get a table in the nice garden out back as the inside can be a bit stuffy. They have good lunch time deals apparently but I went for my evening meal.

To be honest I had a better meal in their Bellavista restaurant but maybe this was because I ignored the waiter’s advice and made my own ill-informed choice of Filete al Cilantro, that is, a grilled tenderloin beef steak (B) in a coriander sauce (C-) made with a reduction of white wine and beer, which really didn’t work for me as the coriander was too overbearing.

Filete al Cilantro

It’s hard to know which dishes to choose from a menu when you have no experience of the cuisine. Guinea pig (cuy)was one of the options but I wasn’t in an adventurous mood. The Casas Patronales 2010 reserva Cabernet Sauvignon I had to go with the meat was ok (B) but it didn’t do all that much for me.


In need of cheering up I went for a slab of chocolate cake, which did the job, but was so big I couldn’t finish it, very unlike me.

Death by chocolate

pisco-and-manzanilla.jpgWanting some inspiration, I asked the barkeep for an alternative digestif and he came up with pisco mixed with Licor de Manzanilla (Camomile) which was a new one on me, and quite interesting (B) but I won’t be rushing to have it again.

Camomile liquer


Total spent $17, 500, less than £25.

Osaka (Advanced C), In the W Hotel at Isadora Goyenechea 3000

Well, they say you should never go back because it’s never as good as the first time, and sadly on this occasion I would have to agree. After having a fantastic experience at the original branch in Buenos Aires (see Palermo Hollywood post), this branch was a bit of a let down. Although the service was just as friendly, the location in a very posh hotel was very different from atmospheric Palermo. The decor is more modern and the lighting harsher, although the service was again very friendly and efficient.

Whilst reading the menu I had a Mangoroska cocktail with mango, lime and Ablsolut Mango vodka (B).


This came with a tiny amuse bouche of  indeterminate origins.

Amuse Bouche

I would have loved to talk with the chefs but they didn’t speak Japanese and my Spanish wasn’t up to the job.

As in Buenos Aires I had the cerviche selection where you choose three from a seletion 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).

Tropic maki

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 the sauce seemed much sweeter here (C).


To drink with this I had 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.

Sauvignon Blanc

I ended with a sushi classic to cheer me up, Salmon Nigiri (A) which you can never 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.  I should have argued but couldn’t be bothered, so I’ll just say this: Why go to Osaka when you can go to Osaki? (see below)

Osaki (Intermediate A), Santa Beatriz 135

Another Japanese-Peruvian cerviche and sushi restaurant but less pretentious and much, much cheaper than its flash rival above, and, I would say, with better food.

I started with the Ceviche Classico, which here involved sea bass with red onion marinated in Leche de Tigre (marinade of fish, lime juice and aji pepper), cameote glaseado ( sweet potato boiled with sugar), steamed choclo (giant maize) and another kind of sweetcorn which was very hard (perhaps fried?) and garnished with a couple of prawns. It was very nice (B+) but I’m not sure about the fried maize kernels whose crunchy texture jarred with the softness of the rest of the dish (texture is very important in Japanese cuisine).


After this a tray of Salmon Maki, a roll of fried prawns encrusted with quinoa (a grain originally from Peru), cream cheese, avocado, topped with smoked salmon and doused with teriyaki sauce, which was sublime (A), if  a little sweet (but not overly so). Watching the chef make it was great fun too.

Maki with advocado and cream cheese

Fried prawns added

Rolled and topped with salmon

On the plate

Next, Terodito Tradicion (B+), thinly sliced Cojinova (Palm Ruff in English, the Chef’s favourite fish for its flavour) with a ‘crema’ of yellow Aji peppers, chalaquita criolla’ (a kind of salsa?), coriander and lime sauce and the requisite hard kernels of maize, which I passed over.

Teradito Tradicion

I was pretty stuffed by then but found room for an amazing complimentary amuse bouche (A), the ingredients of which the chef (whose English was excellent) found hard to explain, although it seemed to involve a salsa and some banana.

Mystery Amuse Bouche

To drink I had a couple of Austral cervejas…


…and to finish a Pisco with Fernet (Italian bitter, very popular in Argentina/Chile), not something I usually like but this was very good (B+).


This was my last evening meal in Santiago and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Osaki is an intimate restaurant with friendly staff and great food at reasonable prices, much better than the other place above! There were lots more things I’d like to try, like these intriguing dishes, so I hope I can come back one day.

Not sure


It’s not listed in trip advisor so only the locals know about it, please keep it that way!

Santiago – Chilean and French food in Providencia

Posted in Chile, Providencia, Santiago de Chile with tags , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2011 by gannet39

Providencia, along with neighbouring Las Condes where I was working most of the time, is where the middle and moneyed classes live, and the tall modern buildings can make it seem less exciting in comparison to other barrios. However, it’s still a buzzing area with lots of places to go, including a lot of middle to high end restaurants.

A lot of them feature Peruvian cuisine which is featured in the next post. In this section I start with the ‘better’ places and gradually move down market, not a comment on the food as such, just a way of organising things. The last few places are the ones I’d be more likely to choose if I was staying here any length of time.

Aqui Esta Coco (Advanced B/C). La Concepckon 236, Tel. 410 6201

This is the flagship restaurant of Chilean celebrity chef Coco Pacheo.


They specialise in seafood as the glowing fish heads attached to the outside wall indicate.


The decor is slightly quirky but ostentatious and it attracts very well-to-do customers. It’s a big place with tables on two floors and they are always full, so it’s still best to reserve.

I went on two occasions, the first by myself when I was shunted to one of the tables to the side of the main room (after turning down a stool at the bar). This is a bad spot to be as it’s the main thoroughfare for the waters who whisk by at high speed, occasionally clipping your chair or table if they have to pass each other in the narrow space. The second time I went with a colleague and reserved a table on the outdoor terrace at the front which was much more relaxing.

On the first visit I had a Pisco Sour made with mint and basil (menta y albahaca) which was a very nice alternative combination (A) to the usual.


To start, after chewing on some uninspiring bread (C), I had the Empanada de Mariscos, a famous Chilean snack, and pretentiously described on the menu as being ‘the best’. They were ok (B) but needed lifting with some diced Aji chillies in oil from the condiment tray.


For my main I had the Congrio Mai-Mai, conger eel doused in a yellow creamy sauce (C) containing giant maize and mushrooms, which once scraped off (I hate cream on my food) to reveal the fish, was ok (B). This was a bad choice perhaps but due mainly to myself and the waiter not speaking each other’s languages. The best thing was the unblemished giant shrimp that sat on top of the whole concoction. Sea food should be kept as simple as possible in my opinion.

Congrio Mai Mai

To drink with the food I had an excellent ‘limited selection’ Montes 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (A) from Leyda, recommended by the diligent sommelier.


To finish a large slab of Torta de Lucuma, a cake made from an Andean fruit (called eggfruit in English due to its flesh having the same colour and texture as hard-boiled egg), which was very nice (B+).


Total spend on this occasion, $37,400, about £50.

The second time I went, myself and Erna shared a starter called the Seafood Selection involving Razor clams (B), Snow Crab Claws (C), Smoked Salmon (A), Horse Mussels (C) Octopus (B) Shrimp (C) and Sea Bass Cerviche (C), all ok but nothing special really.

Seafood selection

For her main course, Erna had her beloved King Crab, in this case au gratin, which was very tasty (B).


grilled-conger-eel1.jpgI had Conger Eel again but this time grilled and served with small shrimps and scallops (B) along with some bland boiled potatoes (C).

a-tasting-of-desserts.jpgTo finish we (mainly I) had ‘A Tasting of Desserts’ which included a crème brulee (B), raspberry sorbet (B) and something similar to Leche Asada (B) all ok in themselves but which didn’t go well together and looked incongruous on the plate.

So two visits were enough for me and I wouldn’t go back. The best things about this place for me were the wooden sinks in the bathroom area!

Nice sink

Out of all the uber-posh restaurants in Providencia, I would say this comes second, the first being Astrid y Gaston (next post) due to its tasting menu, which Coco does not have.

Le Flaubert (Advanced B-), Orrego Luca 125, Tel. 231 9424

Possibly a place to come for a less frenetic atmosphere (far fewer customers, only four tables on a Tuesday night) than other more hyped up spots. I was shown through to the pleasant back garden with lots of ivy, a trickling fountain, and the odd mosquito.

The ingredients are Chilean, cooked in a French style, and the menu is quite short (could be good, could be bad) and pretentiously displayed on a painter’s easel by your table (the French influence?).

I charged straight in with my order, eager to try some local classics but maybe I should have asked for recommendations first. To start Ostiones a la Parmesana (A-) which tasted great in a creamy, cheesy sauce, but you only get four scallops.


The recommended Sauvignon Blanc (‘Amayna’ from San Antonio in the Leyda Valley) was good (B+) but not as fragrant as others I have had, despite being the most expensive on the list at $15,400. Interestingly the waiter said he always drank SB as it suited the cold water seafood of Chile, which agreed with my theory of Norwegian seafood supremacy when in Europe!

Congrio a la Bizaritz (Conger Eel again) was described as coming with boiled potatoes, well prepared and cooked but needing salt (B), in a sauce of garlic, olive oil and balsamic and topped with small prawns and parsley. The fleshy white fish was perfectly cooked but sadly the dish was swimming in a sauce totally dominated by the vinegar, despite the slope on my table draining most of it to one end of the plate. It moved from a B to a C by the end.

Congrio a la Bizaritz

Desserts were standard French/Chilean fare (tarte tatin, creme brulee, manjar, chocolate mousse) The waiter was kind enough to give a small dish of the homemade ‘manjar artisanal’ to try but it was still super sweet and treacly to the point it made me cough. I went eventually for the ‘Sol de Maracuya’, continuing my South American love affair with this wonderful fruit (sorry, I smashed it in before remembering to take a photo!).

Unbelievably they had no sweet dessert wine to offer me so I went with the suggested Chardonnay but it smelt little better than the toilet so I sent it back and had it replaced (upon suggestion) by the waiter’s personal preference of a Santa Ema Sauvingnon Blanc, which was ok (B) but not good for dessert. Also, despite only wanting a bit, I had to pay for the whole half bottle as the waiter made a mistake in telling me it was available by the glass. So I took it home and had it the next day.

So, this is a pleasant peaceful spot with friendly efficient service, but ultimately I had a disappointing experience with both the food and the wine. Perhaps better if different choices are made, but maybe not, and I won’t be going back.

There are lots of other small bars, tapas joints and sushi places at the beginning of this pleasant little street however.

For more local nightlife you could also go to Paseo Oreggo Luca, a cul-de-sac between 2065 and 2075 Avenida Providencia. There are five neighbouring bars with outdoor seating that are buzzing most evenings. There is a night club called Subterraneo here too but I didn’t get time to go.

Baco Vino y Bistrot, Nueva de Lyon 113, Tel. 231 4444

This would be a good choice any night of the week, but especially so on Sundays when most places are closed. It’s a modern French-style bistro, with a relatively short menu, mainly steaks and some fish dishes. I really enjoyed coming here as it felt like being back in Europe after a long time away. The waiters could smile a bit more and the bright white walls and pine floors can seem a bit brash but everything mellows a lot once the sun has gone down.

Baco interior

Carmenere was rapidly becoming one of my favourite Chilean reds, (although unbelievably the variety nearly became extinct after the phllyoxera plague of 1867 until it was rediscovered in Chile) so I got it in again. On the waiter’s recommendation, and with my budget in mind, I ordered one of the lower priced bottles; ‘Viu Manent’ Gran Reserva 2009 from the Valle de Colchagua, which I really enjoyed (B+).


I had the Filete Poivre Noir, a solid chunk of beef fillet rolled in black pepper , ‘sellada‘ (rare or sealed?) as opposed to’jugosa’ (medium or juicy) or ‘rosado’ (less than well done?) which was just what I wanted (A). It normally comes with a green salad but I swapped this for a portion of Ratatouille del Campo which was pretty good (B+).

Filete Poivre Noir

To help finish my wine the waiter recommended some Le Petit Basque cheese which was a very good combination (A).

Petit Basque

For dessert sadly a very poor Baba au Rhum (overly soft and swimming in a liquid that wasn’t at all rummy, covered in squirty cream) (C-) and a shot of Poire Williams, a favourite Eau de Vie of mine, but not here (C+).  Total cost for me $31,350 (with tip) or about £45.


On a second visit with three others, Neil, Frances and Erna again, we shared the Brie Flette (potatoes, onion, fish and Brie) which was powerful and tasty (B+)…


…as well as the Crepe del Mar, a delicious pancake (B+) of salmon and spinach and a milder cheese, which was good but would have been better to eat before the dominating Brie.

For my main I had Saucisse de Toulouse con Lentejas, or sausage and lentils, a favourite comfort food of mine, which was good (B) but a bit too simple (I make a better Spanish version with the addition of other ingredients like spinach or bacon and a more spicy sausage like chorizo).

Saucisse de Toulouse con Lentejas

Liguria (Intermediate A), Aveninda Providencia 1373

This is a classic Santiago bar/restaurant, a buzzing hive of activity with several seating areas in different rooms and levels, both inside and out. The chunky skinhead or bequiffed waiters, in black & white uniforms, minus ties and sleeves rolled up, rush about bearing silver trays. There must be a couple of hundred customers gnawing steaks and slurping up pasta at gingham clothed tables to a frenetic soundtrack of Folklorico, Chilean rock and other Latin beats. Tiled floors, walls covered with painted bell flowers, quirky paintings (sailing ships, luminaries from the last century, Captain Spock), old maps and political posters, all add to the atmosphere.

Liguria Menu
lomo.jpgThe food is good and reasonably priced and the portions are generous. The wine and drinks list takes up most of the menu. On my first visit I had the Lomo Vertado a la Parilla, a thick rare slab of fillet (B+) with a lettuce salad and Verduras Salteados, a bowl of sautéed (salteado) mixed veg (B).

The busy waiter recommended a 2009 Cab Sov called ‘Chocolan’ from the Valle del Maipo D.O. which lived up to its name (B).

Chocolan Cabernet Sauvignon

For dessert Leche Asada (literally ‘baked milk’), similar in texture to Caramel Pud (B).

Leche Asada

With this an Amaretto Sour (C+), a murky alternative to its Pisco-based bretheren which, dangerously, grows on you.


Total cost with tip $28,000 or about £40.

Lomit’s (Intermediate B), Avenida de Providencia 1890

This is essentially a diner, although the waiters look formal in their red uniforms and bow ties. They specialise in a Chilean classic, the Lomito Sandwich. Basically this involves slices of pork tenderloin in a burger bun with a multitude of possible fillings, in my case avocado (palta), tomoto and mayo, known as the Lomo Italiano due to the colours being those of the Italian flag.

Lomito Sanwich

Haute cuisine it ain’t, but can be very satisfying if you’re in the right mood (B). I had this with a round of chips (C+) and a couple of chopps (draught beers) (B). The portions were huge and I only made it halfway before admitting defeat.

Lots of other things on the menu obviously, all reasonably priced. Service was either friendly but inefficient or ancient and very slow, but is apparently better if you sit at the bar. There are lots of tables out on the street too. This is a place for the average guy who likes to watch football while he eats (as I do) and an experience in itself.

Another sandwich place in Providencia I would have liked to have tried but didn’t have time is Fuente Aleman. Apparently Anthony Bourdain visited their downtown branch for his No Reservations TV series, although it doesn’t feature is this clip of his culinary adventures in Santiago.

Santo Remedia Restorante Afrodisiaco (Intermediate C), Roman Diaz 152
Another place that’s open on a Sunday when a lot of places are closed, however I’d give it a miss now that I’ve found Baco above.

Despite the rather worrying name, it’s a trendy bar really, with two large dark cavernous rooms and a soundtrack of chilled house, or at least it was when I was there early doors (opens 8.30pm).

After some average bread buns served with a pretty horrible cheesy sauce (C-), I had the Pollo a la Pimienta, salteados con aceite de olivia (pieces of chicken sautéed with olive oil and bell peppers) which was tasty but over-salted and the meat overdone (C+). The Arroz a las Finas Hierbas was fine (B) as was the glass of Machali Cabernet Sauvignon (B) recommended by the waiter.

Chicken and rice

I also like to be able to see my food when I’m eating and this place was too dark to even read the menu. The candle holders were lovely though. I’m sure it’s a buzzing bar but in my experience, not somewhere to have your main meal.

Work put me up in the RQ Providencia Suites, which are serviced suites, different from a hotel which would have a breakfast room. Here your morning meal is delivered to your door at a time specified by you, which sounds great but in this case it’s pure junk food; coco pops, manjar filled cakes, bland cheese and ham on plastic sliced bread, sugary fruit squash, with only a few chunks of pineapple and kiwi pretending to be healthy. After a few days in to a two week stay, I started handing the breakfast tray back to the delivery guy after taking the fruit and yogurt.

RQ view of the Andes

A hotel would also have a ‘do not disturb’ card to hang on the door handle but the staff here will just walk in if you don’t answer. The reception staff were pretty poor too and the security very unfriendly. The room was small (an armchair but no space for a sofa) and had its own kitchenette (although the hot plates didn’t work), a small balcony (I had great views of the Andes from the 16th floor) and Wi-Fi, usually with a good signal. There’s also a gym and launderette in the building I would honestly try to stay elsewhere.
Right next door there are a several places to eat or drink where you can sit outside, but I doubt the food is any good. I only tried Niu Sushi (at Diego de Velasquez 2115 Local 1) on the first day when I arrived but the food was a C.

My biggest regrets from my limited time (work got in the way) in Santiago were:
1) Not reserving early enough for a Sunday bicycle tour of the vinyards. The biggest (in all South America) and most famous is Concha y Toro (makers of Casillero del Diabolo) but there are lots of smaller wineries you could visit too. There are other cycle tours around town too, many of which take you to places I have mentioned in earlier posts like the central market and La Piojera.

2) Not taking a bus trip to Mendoza in Argentina over the Andes. The views are stunning apparently.

3) Not checking out the Barrio Brasil, one of the more Bohemian districts.

4) Not eating a good version of Pastel de Chocio (sweetcorn pie) the school lunch version I had just didn’t cut it. Humitas, (sweetcorn mash wrapped in maize leaves) are also supposed to be pretty good too.
At the airport however, I did manage to cross another food item off my Chilean friend Maria’s list of must tries. ‘Completos’ are hot dogs served with my favourite Chilean sandwich filling trio of mashed avocado, tomatoes and mayo.


It was pretty good (B), thanks Maria!

Santiago – Museum of Pre-Colombian Art

Posted in Centro Historico, Chile, Santiago de Chile with tags , on December 9, 2011 by gannet39

The Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (at Calle Bandera 361, Metro Plaza des Armas) is a great museum, an essential visit if you are in town. It’s quite small so it only takes a couple of hours to get round it but I learned a lot in that time.

For example, from about 1,000 BC, the Pre-Colombian peoples of Central America used to play a ball game called Tlatchtli. It was often used to solve disputes between neighbouring cultures as a way of avoiding all out war, with the losing side often being decapitated as a result! A bit like Rollerball but without the skates.

However, it seems the wheel had been invented independently by the Olmec, as can be seen from the slide of a children’s toy, but was not developed due to the absence of large domesticated animals that could pull a carriage.

The use of hallucinogens for Shamanistic rituals was commonplace (Mexico has more psychoactive plants than any other country), for instance, a small mushroom called ‘water child’ which sprouts in the fields after rain is still used today by indigenous people. Eating it produces visions of small people who are able to resolve problems c.f. the slide of a human form with a half-sphere above its head.

There were lots of other fascinating facts about funerary rights, such as mummification and evisceration of flesh after death, but I’ll let you find out about those yourself if you’re interested!

Visually the best things are the sculptures, depicted in so many different artistic styles, some highly abstract. It seems the Mesoamericans had thought of most things before the arrival of Colombus and the subsequent colonialism wiped their civilisations out. This is a fascinating museum, go if you get the opportunity. Entrance is about $3,000 just over £4.

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Santiago – Centro Historico

Posted in Centro Historico, Chile, Santiago de Chile with tags , , , , , , on December 8, 2011 by gannet39

Santiago is a huge city with over six million inhabitants. The drive down the central artery, Avenida Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins, to where I was staying in Providencia, seemed to go on forever. On the way we passed squads of armoured riot police and paintbomb-spattered water canon refilling from hydrants in preparation for the next round of student protests.

Although Providencia  is very safe and modern, it’s also pretty sterile so whenever I could I would come into the historic centre for some culture. I usually got off the train at Plaza des Armas, a buzzing central square with lots of things going on. I particularly liked the old fountain with it’s water-spouting monitor lizards.

Plaza das ArmasLovely lizardsFountain

On one side of the square is the baroque Cathedrale Metropolitaine de Santiago du Chili which I find to be quite a dark and ugly building as cathedrals go, but I’m not really a connoisseur.


Just around the corner however is the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Calle Bandera 361) which is an essential visit (see slideshow in the next post).

A good possible place for a lunch near the square is Bar The Clinic (Monjitas 578), a bar opened by the Chilean equivalent of Private Eye, the satirical magazine. The bar’s name is a reference to the hospital Pinochet stayed in while he had medical treatment in the UK. It’s also a venue for stand up comedy.

The Clinic mag

Although the food is no great shakes (B), it has a nice courtyard and a fun atmosphere. I had a ‘churrasco’ (thanks for the tip Maria), a classic Chilean sandwich. My version was a Churassco Italiano which involves thinly cut slices of grilled steak, and the red, white and green of tomato, mayo and mashed avocado (palta) in a toasted bun.


When Chileans say ‘sandwich’, they aren’t talking about the small wimpy affairs that are the norm in the UK and this definitely filled a large hole (B) along with a plate of chips (C) and a Bolivian Pacena beer (A).



The menu displays a quirky sense of humour, such as the ‘Earthquake 8.8’ cocktail or the ‘Longueira’, a long sausage (Longaniza) suggestively arranged with two potatoes garnished with fried onions.

central-market-entrance.jpgThe Mercado Central de Santiago at San Pablo 967 is also an interesting place to visit and a must for most tourists. The beautiful old cast iron frame. decorated with Chilean stars, was actually made in Glasgow and shipped over in 1868. It’s crying out to be renovated and put on a par with other markets in big South American cities.

market-roof.jpgAlso, truth be told, I wouldn’t buy my seafood from here (restaurants buy theirs elsewhere too) as a lot of it is unrefrigerated and hygiene standards seem pretty poor. Still it’s an experience with throngs of people filling the narrow passageways between the stalls manned by bellowing fishmongers or crammed inside the many small marisquerias (seafood restaurants) around the edges of the building.

There is lots of bizarre seafood I’d never seen before like Picorocos, giant barnalces, which were still very much alive and flicking their feeding feelers out of their shells in the hope they were still somewhere near the sea.


No idea what these brown things are though.





Donde Augusto (Intermediate C), Tel. 698 1366

The biggest and most famous marisqueria in the central hall of the market, it looks as if they are slowly taking over the whole place. It’s certainly very popular which is important for me as it means there’s a quick turnover and I don’t have to worry about whether I will make it to work the next day.

Donde Augusto


After running the gauntlet of touts by doing ‘una gyro’ (a circuit) to check out all the possibilities, I was finally hooked in by a bloke who was a dead ringer for Pavarotti. I started with a dozen oysters, which looked like they must have been shucked a little earlier in the day but still tasted great (B+) with a squeeze of lemon.

Jardin de MariscosPicoroco on the plateThe half bottle of Santa Digna Sauvignon Blanc was ok too (B).

Oysters and wine

Still hungry, I had this with the Jardin de Mariscos, which involved Scallops B+), one large and several small prawns which again looked as if they’d been shelled much earlier (C+), squid rings, mussels, cerviche and abalone(loco) (all C), so nothing particularly amazing.

The Italians on the next table sent back the battered Calamari squid rings they’d ordered which were very small, brown and overcooked. Can’t say I blame them, the Italian way of preparing squid (lightly grilled with olive oil and parsley) is much better.

mote-con-huesillos.jpgTo finish, I had Mote con Huesillos, but this time a more traditional version from the one in Vina. Dried peaches or sometimes plums (huesillos) are cooked in water with sugar and cinnamon, cooled and mixed with fresh husked wheat (mote). It’s a very refreshing drink on a hot summer‘s day. Total spend with tip $28,000, about £40. An experience but I wouldn’t go back.

After this I walked over the river to the Fruit & Veg market for a nosey. Lots of the usual stuff but some different things too, like purple maize (Prince’s favourite corn?)…

Purple Maize

…and tiny Andean potatoes.

Local potatoes

Not sure what the last two pictures are of though. Can anyone help?

DunnoNot sure

Very near the markets at Aillaviand tiny Andean potatoes. Not sure what the last two pictures are of though. Can anyone help?lu 1030 is La Piojera an (in)famous Chilean old-school drinking hole. They are the (disputed) inventors of the Terremoto (Earthquake), a cocktail of wine and ice cream, laced with fernet, grenadine and bitters. A large 400ml glass is called a ‘Cataclysm’ whereas the smaller version is a ‘Replica’.


To be honest it’s not something I’d want to drink a lot of (C) but it seems pretty popular with the regulars. I have read reviews that say that La Piojera has been spoilt by too many tourists but on the Saturday I went it was filled with locals singing (badly), many of whom were staggering drunk. Not a place for faint-hearted visitors!



A walk on the wild side in Valparaiso

Posted in Chile, Valparaiso with tags , , , , , on December 4, 2011 by gannet39

Valparaiso is a grimy old port with over 450 years of history and the third largest city in Chile. Although Santiago is the official capital, ‘Valpa’ is home to the Chilean parliament. Until the Panama Canal was built, it was one of the most important stop offs for ships moving between the Pacific and Atlantic through the Magellan Straits. It’s now the second most important port in the country and a vital base for the Chilean navy.


During its golden era it attracted immigrants from all over Europe, including Britain. The architecture of the old town reflects the many cultural styles that they brought with them and nowadays it is a UNESCO world heritage site. Today it is a very bohemian city with a large left-leaning, student population, who seem to be at every traffic light performing acrobatics, juggling or breathing fire for the entertainment of the waiting drivers.

The school students were on strike demanding free education when I was the there and in the evenings there were often clashes with the riot police who were defending the congress building, not that I saw any of it as I was staying in posh and peaceful Vina del Mar next door (see previous post).


liberty.jpgMy only tastes of town were on a Monday (virtually dead, lots of places closed) and a Wednesday (relatively buzzing) so I can’t really comment on the night life, although I’m sure the locals party hard.

For food, the Rough Guide suggested I try J.Cruz Malbrau, a greasy spoon up a dark side alley at 1466 Condell.


The taxi driver warned me to watch myself around this part of town, but it was pretty quiet early in the week so I wasn’t too worried.



There’s lots of graffiti in the alley (some of it quite good)…

Graf1…but I wasn’t expecting it to carry on inside the restaurant where even the napkin holders and greasy plastic tablecloths are covered in scrawl.

The rest of the walls and the ceiling are covered with an impressive collection of old junk including, amongst many, many other things; African masks, kitsch woodcarvings, cherubic portraits, bombs with baby’s bibs tied to them (!?), hundreds of passport photos and cabinets containing collections of ivory carvings and Toby mugs! It’s quite a sight.graffed-up-tables.jpg

The rest of the walls and the ceiling are covered with an impressive collection of old junk including, amongst many, many other things; African masks, kitsch woodcarvings, cherubic portraits, bombs with baby’s bibs tied to them (!?), hundreds of passport photos and cabinets containing collections of ivory carvings and Toby mugs! It’s quite a sight.


Bib bomb

Upon entering I was gazed at impassively by three formidable matrons, one of whom turned out to be quite kind and sat me down in a corner. ‘Chorrillana?’ was all she asked, to which I nodded, as this is the local ‘delicacy’ which I had come to try.

Basically it’s a huge plate of chips topped with stewed onions, scrambled eggs and strips of steak and served with a dish of chilli sauce, which this establishment claims to be the inventor of. For good measure, I was also given half a white sliced loaf, in case I didn’t have enough carbs already.


It’s pretty foul, starting as a just about eatable C but moving to an inedible D as you get to the final soggy chips floating in a pool of oil and onion water at the bottom of the bowl. The feisty chilli sauce definitely helps get it down and it was kind of satisfying in a way, but left me feeling rather queasy by the end.

With this, a half bottle of Santa Teresa red which wasn’t too bad for a table wine (C+), however Coke seems to be the accompaniment of choice for the locals.

Just down the road at Plaza Anibel Pinto 1182 is Cinzano, one of the oldest bars in town (since 1896) with bored old waiters who looked like they have been there since it opened. They made a passable Pisco Sour (B), served up in a fruit bowl.





The shelves behind the bar are a shrine to Santiago Wanderers,  (formed in 1892 and so the oldest club in the country) with ancient team photos going back to 1946. Older souvenirs from the club’s history were wiped out in an earthquake that destroyed their headquarters, and a lot of their silverware.

Cinzano BarmanSantiago Wanderers

The walls are further decorated in a nautical theme with pictures of tankers sinking off the coast and old ads for dance nights at the bar.

Dance the night away at Cinzano

It still has a popular ballroom at the weekend, and a restaurant too but I didn’t get to try either as I was in town on the wrong days of the week.

Container festAlthough it was Monday, there was a bit of action in one of the squares. I was there at the time of the third annual ‘container festival’ where shows are in put on in shipping containers in various places around town.

container-graf.jpgdefaultA large crowd was enjoying the sounds of a brass section while a big group of people waved wooden orange boxes at the front. It all looked very intriguing but I couldn’t work out what was going on so didn’t stay for long. Passed the same container in the day time and it seemed to be a hive of alternative activity with people painting and getting them ready for the next evening of entertainment.

A fun and cheap ($300 or 35p) thing to do is take a ride on an ‘ascensor’, an aged funicular railway that once helped the populace get up the steep hills that hem them in on the land side.

Ascensor ArtilleriaAscensor side viewWheel houseGoing downThere are several ascensors at regular points around the city but perhaps the best is Ascensor Artilleria at the far end of the bay (a couple of blocks from Estacion Puerto on the metro/subte).
More ascensorAfter a short rickety ride, you can get a great panorama over the container port and the berths for the warships of the Chilean navy.

Viewing point

There are a few interesting old houses around here, and lots of old cars slowly rotting away on the street.


There’s also a naval museum,  as well as some handicraft stalls and a couple of nice cafes.

Naval musuem

I went to Cafe Arte Mirador, immediately next to the station at the top. It wasn’t the best of days weather-wise but it was still very nice to sit outside and take in the wonderful view from the balcony.

cafe-arte-mirador-view.jpg I had a deep fried Emapanada Naplolitana (diced ham, melted cheese) (B+) with a bowl of spicy ‘pevere’ (Chilean salsa)…Emapanada Naplolitana and sauce

…and an ice cold Escudo cerveza (B) while sitting on the balcony.


Walking back down the hill there is lots of colourful street art covering the walls and stairs which I think are part of the open air museum, a series of murals around the city.

Respect da puebloInca birdBird artDragon

Down in the old town again I stopped off for a cold bottle of Cristal beer (B) at the ancient and atmospheric Bar Ingles at 851 Cochrane (or rear door at 870 Blanco).

Antiguo Bar Ingles

It’s full of old guys playing dominoes, knocking back the pisco sours (happy hour 6 till 8.30 Mon to Tues) or tucking into cocina tipica Chilena (empanadas, grilled kidneys, tripe etc). The stained white walls don’t seem to have had a lick of paint since it opened in the 1900’s and the huge old warped wooden bar gives it a saloon-like feel.

Ingles barIngles interior

It’s a popular lunch spot, but I was one of only a few having an evening meal. I had Palta York (avocado with diced cooked ham) to start (C+)…


…followed by the local favourite of Conejo Frito (fried rabbit) with chips (C+), for just under £20 with another beer.

Rabbit and chips

It was all nicely prepared and presented simple food but my eyes were bigger than my appetite.

Your grub comes up from the cellar on an old dumb waiter while orders are shouted down the shaft. In one concession to modernity, they do have Wi-Fi so I could write this.

Bar Irlandes just down the road at 1279 Blanco doesn’t have the history but it’s cosier, cleaner, plays music, stays open later and also has Wi-Fi.

So no knock out restaurants here either in my very short visits, but a few good simple snacks and meals. Too late, after getting to Santiago, I heard about  Pasta e Vino, which is getting a lot of attention. Apparently you need to reserve several days ahead to get in. Next time!

Bars recommended by teachers I didn’t get to:

Bar La Playa, in Plaza Soto Mayor near the port, is an old bar rumored to have it’s own ghost!

Bar Piedra Feliz, at Errazuriz 1041, has live bands and a good atmosphere.

Generally bars in Subida Ecuador are safer but you should be careful around Barrio Puerto. Everywhere will be quiet Monday to Wednesday.

I also missed out on a visit to La Sebastiana, one of Pablo Neruda’s houses.

Searching in vain in Viña del Mar

Posted in Chile, Vina del Mar with tags , , on December 4, 2011 by gannet39

Viña del Mar is Chile’s principle beach resort (very built up and modern) and is the biggest  tourist attraction in the country. Driving into town over the hills on a sunny day, the golden beaches can look stunning but sadly the weather changed on me after the first day (mid-November) and it was grey and cloudy for most of the time I was there. Not that I would have got any beach time anyway, and the water is apparently pretty cold.

Vina del Mar

Viña is the fourth biggest city in Chile and has a population of just over quarter of a million. It’s an expensive place and I didn’t eat well once while I was there, so whenever possible, I went to Valparaiso, Viña’s much older and more interesting neighbour (see next post). The two cities are in two neighbouring bays separated by a narrow headland.

On my first night I took a walk along the long seafront to check out the beautiful sunset, framed by two lit up freighters parked out in the bay on one side and the backdrop of low, steep hills on the other. You can get a good walk or run in along the waterfront here.

Enjoy del Mar (Advanced C-), Peru 100

At the end of the promenade on Peru you can stop off at this place (a satellite building of the Hotel del Mar/casino complex. It has an attractive outside terrace with glass walls to shield you from the wind with a great view of the sun setting over the faux castle on the point separating the two bays.

After a Campari (minus the soda which I’d asked for) I ordered the cerviche, hoping for something similar to the amazing experience I’d had the night before in Buenos Aires (see previous post). Sadly what I got was three deep ceramic tubs of white fish, crab and salmon swimming in citrus juices of various kinds and no discernable taste (D), except for the salmon in orange juice which wasn’t too bad (C). To be fair the nice female waitress asked if I wanted something else by way of compensation but I had lost my appetite by then.


Delicias del Mar (Advanced C), San Martin 459

Hoping for a decent meal after two days of sub-standard fodder, I put my trust in this reputable Basque-influenced restaurant on the main San Martin drag. The ambience is pleasant with low lighting and polite bow-tied and waist coated waiters, my young chap being particularly friendly.

His recommendation of a fragrant Sauvignon Blanc reserva (Leyda Valley 2010), amongst higher priced options was a good one (A), and eventually saved my evening from being a disappointment.


The starter of smoked salmon blinis with capers, citric cream and grated Parmesan, was a good choice (B+)  too and I was hopeful that the next course would be a good one.

Smoked Salmon Blinis

Unfortunately however their ‘house speciality’ of Paella Viñamarina with seafood, chicken and pork, supposedly in the classic Spanish style, was over salted and had a strange after-taste I found hard to describe. The veg seemed half raw and hadn’t married well with the rice. After picking out and eating the seafood and meat, I left most of the rice and vegetables (D). Other customers seemed to have left theirs as well.

Pretty poor paella

After mentioning it to the waiter however he offered me an alternative and I kept it simple with some grilled Salmon(B) and Papas Duquesas aka croquettes which weren’t to my taste either (D).

This place may be better on other nights though. I made mistake of coming on the night that Chile were playing Paraguay in a qualifier for the 2012 World Cup and all the kitchen staff were busy cheering their team on in the back room. Had I known I would have gone straight to the crowded local bar I passed on the way but after finishing up quickly I managed to catch the last 20 minutes there, and the second goal in Chile’s 2-0 win. Chi-chi-chi le-le-le!

After a hard week of grafting (and not eating particularly well) I was in need of a treat so took myself off to Savinya, recommended by the local teachers (thanks for taking care of me Claire and Lydia) and which likes to think of itself as one of the best restaurants in the area.

It’s above the casino (entrance at the rear of the Hotel del Mar on San Martin) but once you get up to the second floor ask for it by name as it’s not well signed and it’s easy to confuse it with the more downmarket place on the same floor. Neither place batted an eyelid when I showed up in jeans, trainers and t-shirt. The view of the short-lived sunset over the bay from the window tables is fantastic but I had to sit in the smoking section to get it.

Wheel away your money

Christian the effusive English-speaking sommelier with a caustic laugh, wearing a huge official looking medallion the size of a mayoral chain, recommended a local Sauvignon Blanc (William Cole 2010) from the nearby Casablanca valley which he told me, along with the Leyda wine-growing area, is where the best Chilean whites are from. As one of the cheaper options, it was very fragrant and dry with a subtle flavour (B).


After nibbling on their excellent brown bread (A) and an amuse bouche of salmon and unagi sauce with too much parsley (C)…


…I ordered the white fish cerviche (C).



This involved clams au gratin (B) served in Chinese spoons…

Clams au gratin

…tiny seared scallops (A-) and king prawns (B).

Scallops and prawns

The taste of the scallops was really brought out with a smear of reduced balsamic, but I couldn’t for the life of me discern the oysters or the pil pil sauce included in the description on the menu.

Final ensemble

For my main course I ordered the conger eel, another recommended local ingredient, with ‘lightly fried, basil-flavoured vegetables with garlic-seasoned shrimps and Chiloe potato chips’ however the next thing to arrive was an unexpected palate-cleansing lemon sorbet (B+) delivered by a grinning insane-looking waiter who Christian described as ‘my friend the monkey’ and who grasped my hand in an iron grip.

The prawns were battered, potentially with garlic (B) and sitting in a rather rank tasting foam (C-). The seared conger eel was pretty good (B) and came on a bed of slightly undercooked but fairly flavoursome (C+) legumes (chick , butter, black, and green (ava)) and cherry tomatoes. The circular chips were interesting (B). I wasn’t keen on the whole affair at first but gradually warmed to it. I appreciated the heated plates which needed to be warm in the chilly air-conditioned atmosphere.

Conger Eel

Christian said he would talk to the chef about what was best for dessert and marry a digestif with it, then promptly forgot about me, although I did get a complimentary mousse as a pre-dessert from a waiter, which was nice, but only a mouthful.


The principle dessert was very poor, a tasteless (C) passion fruit concoction next to something looking like a Chinese dumpling in an even more flavourless (D) swimming pool of orange sauce, a contemporary take on the traditional dish of Mote con Huesillo.

Maracuya and Mote

The complementary  ‘lemoncello’ was another letdown, unchilled but with a few ice cubes thrown in as an afterthought, it wouldn’t happen in Italy.  And there’s another thing. Although they are quick to tell you the chef is Italian, when I asked which part he was from, it turned out he wasn’t on the premises. Perhaps he just oversees things but none of the preparation seemed Italian to me, more a hotchpotch of influences that doesn’t quite work.

Conclusion: this place pretends to be the best but is really all about image and no content.  Nothing on the menu actually seems to exist as described. Total cost was only about £45 though so could have been worse.Keep searching…


Other possible places to try in this culinary wasteland (see picture) might be:

A high class Italian place recommended by Rough Guide which I didn’t have time to try is Divina de Pescado at San Martin 180.

A cheaper Italian is Panzoni at Paseo Cousino 128.

Also Jerusalem (Middle Eastern cuisine) at Quinta259 might be worth a try.

A Chilean place recommended by a teacher is La Flor de Chile at 8 Norte and 2 Poniente.

Good luck!

An excellent personal driver, should you need one is Edgardo (personal mobile 8967 1786). As a remise (a pre-ordered taxi) recommended by the hotel, he’s a lot more expensive than a normal cab but his car is modern and comfortable and although he does speak some English, he’s a man of few words and concentrates on his driving, which I like.  In South America, it’s easy to end up with a complete speed freak or someone who will fleece you after pointing out a couple of monuments on the way, so when you find a good one it’s best to hold onto them. When work wasn’t paying however I got the bus or metro into town, or you could share an ordinary cab with other people going in the same direction, as the locals do.

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