Restaurant-Check: Borago - Santiago, Chile
Being in Chile since one month already and in the middle of my eight week trip, my colleague Daniel decided to join me for the rest (and best part) of the trip ;). He landed on a Monday morning and I thought, our first night in Santiago de Chile should be something special to start this amazing trip. After checking in at the wonderful Madison Italia we had a reservation at the Michelin starred Borago Restaurant which was named the fifth best restaurant of South America. We were a bit surprised to find one of the best restaurants of this diverse continent in Chile and not in one of the countries which are very famous for its culinary sides like Peru (where I always had good food and by the way very cheap too but still excellent quality), Colombia, Argentina, Brazil or Uruguay with its world famous asados and the outstanding meat quality.
But we were very interested and wanted to get overwhelmed by the Chilean cuisine and topical products. Now after traveling through Chile for a while and meeting the national ingredients in its natural surroundings we could probably understand the menu better, but after all the experiences in the other Latin countries we still are on the side that the Chileans do not really have a food culture which is comparable to the one in France or Italy, but maybe the growing tourism and richness will bring a turn in this culture. Borago is definitely on a way to dramatically change the country’s unexciting food offers.
All in all it was a very interesting evening with a lot of previously unknown ingredients and tastes with a really wonderful wine pairing (we are totally in love with the Chilean wines). They are very strong and rich in taste but even the finesse which is missing in the kitchen sometimes is perfectly worked out. The country is very thin but also extremely long (approximately 4000 kilometres), so they have a lot of different tastes and landscapes from which they take the main essential products. In the north, there is the hot and dry Atacama dessert, in the east the high Andean mountains, in the south the rich and very European Patagonia with plenty of rivers and lakes, the center which is rich in sun and cold winds from the pacific breeze and of course the ocean in the west with the Easter island.
As an amuse we had a soup of mussels in an oyster followed by the first course called chilenito and was kind of a soup served in the horn of a cow. A totally interesting food composition and stunning presentation. Soon afterwards the handmade bread originating from Patagonia arrived along a very good and creamy butter. Our first wine was a Chardonnay Gran Reserva 2012 from Alto Las Gredas – I can just say WOW. One of the less bright courses was the edible hummus. I mean it was the idea behind this amazing menu blending the entire country on the plate, so therefore I couldn't have wished any better menu for the first day in this new country. However Lukas coming from food heaven Peru, he was very discerning so we both were discussing about the menu which was interesting as two different angles approached to one.
The dinner at Borago in Santiago reminded me a lot to the evening at Le Chateaubriand in Paris 5 to 6 years ago already. Back then it was the most affordable restaurant in the list of San Pellegrino's 50 Best Restaurants worldwide. My dinner at Chateaubriand wasn't super delicious neither, but I learned a lot of things I would have never ordered before and I also saw food trends emerging. I felt that it is the same for Borago. The chef defines the cuisine of an entire country and sets up the local food trends, therefore it was amazing to be part of Chilean food history. When we had the chance to visit the food laboratory on the first floor of the restaurant, my thoughts turned out to be true. Rodolfo Guzman is actually one of the most creative chefs I have ever met, he is full of new ideas and concepts so that the entire first floor of the restaurant looks like a real laboratory. Both, Daniel and me were impressed by his dishes afterwards and how different they were to any other michelin-starred menu we tried so far.
Well all left to say is that Borago is terribly expensive and you should rather consider it as food education than an Italian- or French-like dinner. Wine pairing was perfect and the digestifs were stunning, too - tough beware of the (enormous) price tag. Two shots of digestif set us back sky-high 100 euros. It's a place to celebrate a special occasion or show-off with your most important business partner - it's Chile's number one dining venue and obviously the ambience fits this reputation. I wouldn't want to miss this cool evening, tough as an Italian-lover would be fine with something more casual, too.
We were guests of Rodolfo Guzman and his team, however as you can read, all above written expresses our own opinion only and has not been influenced in any way.