Our first night in Santiago we decided to blow the budget we hadn’t yet set, but really should have, with a fine dining experience at Borago.
The restaurant is ranked the second best in Latin America according to this list.
I’ve been to a few Michelin starred restaurants in London but I was yet to try the kind of hyper, abstract fine dining that Borago offers – you know, the sort of food that looks more like a piece of art than anything actually edible.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure it was going to be up my street. Looking at pictures online the portions looked SMALL and hardly mouth-watering. But I was eager to give it a try nonetheless.
The restaurant is the brainchild of Rodolfo Guzmán. His CV includes working under some highly regarded chefs, including Andrés Madrigal and Andoni Luis Aduriz in Spain.
The ethos behind Borago is indigenous foods – every ingredient used in the restaurant comes from Chile. It’s like a tour of all the different Chilean berries, herbs and plants that you never knew existed, cooked using traditional Chilean techniques given a modern twist.
The majority of the ingredients used are personally foraged by the restaurant staff. They even get milk from cows they’ve milked themselves. That’s dedication.
Oh, and the water they serve is Patagonian rain water…It tastes as soft as melted butter.
We opted for the 10 course tasting menu with wine pairing.
The first course was two tiny sweets (below) that looked like they’d been fished out of a pot pourri bowl and served on two giant rocks. I wasn’t too impressed with these but fortunately this was the only course I didn’t like.
Due to the complexity of each dish, a chef serves you each course and intricately explains its origin, cooking technique and all the ingredients. The chefs were all young and seemed to hail from all over – England (Wimbledon!), Venezuela, Chile and the US. The kitchen is open so you can see them all busying away, with about four chefs over one dish.
Did I mention we had the wine pairing? Yeah, so as you can imagine I can’t possibly tell you everything we ate or remember much of what the chefs told us, unfortunately!
However, some highlights were this squid dish (see below) made with edible flowers.
Veal cooked in milk for 48 hours – incredible (below). With this dish you’re given a branch to smell to take you ‘to the deer’s natural habitat’ via the power of your nostrils.
This dish (below) that looks un-edible actually has different types of seafood under each delicious cracker.
Another dish involved scraping a delicious paste off a rock that sat in an intense broth.
This ice cream and berry concoction (see below) was rich, sweet and sour. You can suck a sweet, sticky gelatine off the branch.
The wine selection encompassed red and white and a sweet wine at the end.
Overall the dinner took about two-and-a-half hours and I enjoyed every minute of it. I left full, tipsy and very relaxed having tasted foods I’d never ever heard of let alone imagined I’d ever try.
At around £240 for the meal, with a Pisco Sour each to start, it’s not a cheap night out but I think it is completely worth it. The only thing that would have made the meal better was if the restaurant gave you a menu detailing everything you ate so you could have it for your future reference.
If I ever return to Santiago and can afford it I’ll definitely go back.
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