We have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the restaurants in Santiago, Chile. In 2006 and 2007, we created our complete Santiago, Chile Restaurant Reviews and Recommended Wines. Click here for that posting. It includes restaurant recommendations that we never had a chance to try. The following restaurant reviews are those that we enjoyed in September 2008 when the exchange rate was CLP$.512 = US$1.
1. Our Favorites (in alphabetical order)
1.1 Astrid & Gastón (cocina peruana), Antonio Bellet 201, Providencia, (56-2)650-9125, www.astridygaston.com We spent CLP$48.200 plus tip and had a near perfect meal. The restaurant is beautifully decorated with whimsical artwork and an open kitchen. The tables are beautifully set and far enough apart for comfort. The staff is attentive, friendly and helpful.
We were brought three kinds of (good) bread and bread sticks along with butter and a delicious dip of cream, onion, parsley and chili. There was no other amuse bouche. We shared everything and started with a fantastic dish called Dos erizos libertinos described as "uno en chupe con camarón, y el otro en su emulsión de rocto con ostiones" (CLP$9.800). The soup was warm and the broth/sauce intensely flavorful. The cold erizos were in a spicy lime juice that was perfect. And the erizos were perfect too. With that dish we had a (generous) glass of San Pedro Castillo de Molina Viognier (CLP$2.200 x 2) that was excellent (but that we had to wait moments too long for it to be poured). For our main we ordered El cochinillo de tres semanas described as "Confitado y laqueado. Reducción de sus jugos al cacao. Carapulcra y su pera rellena de relleno." (CLP$17.800) The kitchen split the dish for us and the portions were still large. The suckling pig was fabulous; meat tender and flavorful. The sauce was terrific. The lacquered skin was exactly as it should have been: crunchy. The stuffing of the pear was very good and so were the potatoes. With that dish we had a glass of Astrid & Gastón Ventisquero (a maker we like) Carménère (CLP$2.900 x 2). For dessert "de Astrid" we had Los picarones rellenos de plátano con miel de especias y Helado de crema (CLP$6.800). Another dish created with perfection. We also had 2 decaffeinated coffees (CLP$1.800 x 2). They came with les mignardise. The meal was a triumph.
1.2 Boragó, Vitacura 8369, Vitacura, fono: (56-2)224-8278, web: www.borago.cl. We had a very nice, creative meal and would recommend the restaurant for someone who wants to sample Chilean dishes done in innovative ways. The restaurant opened in May (I think) 2007. The service was very good and our waiter was attentive. We wanted to share one degustation menu and that was a problem. We said that all we wanted was to have each course put in the center of the table and to have empty plates in front of each of us. Our waiter said that it was not permitted. After consulting with the kitchen, our waiter said that, because they wanted to please their customers, the chef would make an exception for us. We chose the Maridaje Endémica Degustación with the wine/tea pairings (CLP$40.000). The courses were small works of art: three starters, three mains and three desserts. Here’s the menu:
Sonido y parrilla…Aceite y ají explosivo, tomate y carbón vegetal.
This was bread with olive oil and little explosive morsels at the bottom of the dish
Mar del norte…Loco y aceite de cobre, mayonesa de huevo de campo trufada, paired with a lovely Leyda Classic Chardonnay reserva 2007, Valle de Leyda.
Loco is a Chilean abalone that tends to be tough but this was not. It was very well prepared.
A veces la niebla simplemente de deja caer…Ensalada de nogos indistintamente cocinadoes: gargales, enokis, papá trufada y umo de bosque, paired with a William Cole, Pinot Noir, Alto Vuelo reserva 2007, Valle de Casablanca. A few tastes that were good.
Abstracción de mar de isla de Pascua…Konzo, caldo de mar rosado y papas a humo, todo condimentado con flores de borraja served with Té de guarda Pu’erh, Provenica de Yunnan, China. The fish was excellent and served in a broth; very Chilean.
Congrio a la parrilla de carbón de espino, clorofila de albahaca y papá bruja (Chiloé), paired with Leyda Classic Chardonnay reserva 2007, Valle de Leyda
We really loved that the menu was heavy on fish and this preparation was very good. The basil-oil essence was unique and fabulous.
En medio de los silencios del bosque patagónico...Ahumado en madera de Tepu: Carrillera cocinada durante 30 horas a 70° C y queso de oveja patagónica maduro, boletus y espuela de galán, paired with Casa Patronales, Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Valle del Maule. This was a very good dish as was the wine (but now we’re starting to get full).
Climas helados…helado de flores de violeta, turrón y crocante de maqui condimentado con violetas, paired with Sidra Misia Rosario, Sagrada Familia, Curicó. The violet taste was unmistakable and delicious.
Nuevo coulant (caliente-frío) de chocolate cocinado a –196 ° C y rizos de avellana chilena, paired with Portal del Alto, Syrah tardio 2004, Valle del Maipo. You had to be careful eating this one!
Frío glacial with Agua de vertiente, Cordillera de los Andes, Chillán. A most unusual dish.
1.3 Europeo (cuisine du marché), Alonso de Cordova 2417, Vitacura, fono: (56-2)208-3603, e-mail: email@example.com, web: www.europeo.cl, We spent CLP$38.000 plus tip. We had a lovely meal, in a lovely room with lovely service.
This is a restaurant where you know there is a standard of excellence. The waiter, Eudes, who took our order, remembered us and the table we sat at over a year before. Was it because we share everything? In any event, we were impressed. The (very good) bread arrived with a paté, oil and butter. There was no other amuse bouche. For our starter, we shared Molljas de ternera rellenas con gremolata sobre confits de verduras/veal sweetbreads stuffed with gremolata over vegetables confits CLP$5.500. It was absolutely terrific and the kitchen split the dish for us (perhaps also giving us more). There were four mollejas that had been stuffed and then rolled in fine breadcrumbs that added a bit of a crunch. They were the perfect texture and the gremolata was a creative addition. We loved all of the vegetables on the dish. For our main, we shared the half order of Chuleta de cordeo Francia al horno/oven roasted French rack of lamb with vegetables, potatoes mille feuilles and thyme sauce (CLP$14.700--a whole rack would have cost CLP$22.600 and been too much for us). Again the kitchen split the dish for us. The lamb was very tasty--like Patagonian--and perfectly cooked. The sauce had a wonderful thyme taste and fresh thyme visably in it. Again the vegetables were copious and delicious. The potato pie was an unusual addition in Chile. On our "one glass of wine with dinner" regimen, we wanted to have a pure carmènére but, by the glass, they only had an ensamblaje of cabernet franc, carmènére, cabernet sauvignon from Coyam Cachapoal (200 cc for CLP$4.700 each). It was very, very good. We had two desserts. Dimitri had the Tartaleta de mirabelles carmalizadas con parfait helado de miel/home made mirabelles (plum) tartalette with honey parfait glace (CLP$4.200) and loved it, although he didn't finish the ice cream saying it lacked taste. I asked for one chocolate soufflé from the Sinfonia de chocolates. The kitchen made me 3 tiny chocolate soufflés which were wonderful (but I could only eat one) at the special price of CLP$4.200. The evening was truly enjoyable. We took a normal taxi from the Marriott (it cost CLP$2.050 there) and a normal taxi back (CLP$1.800) that we hailed on the corner of Cordova and Vitacura.
1.4 La Mar (de Astrid Gutsche y Gastón Acurio), Cebicheria Peruana, Av. Nueva Costanera 3922, Vitacura, fono: (56-2) 206-7839, e-mail: reservaschile.lamarcebicheria.cl (and the Gerente is Bogdan Piotraszewski (who speaks English) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). We spent CLP$22.400 (with a gift of the cebiche valued CLP$9.200) plus tip. This restaurant opened on Sept. 1, 2008 and it is already a smash hit. It is owned by Astrid and Gastón from Peru (and the world) and is just as good as the La Mar in Lima. We had a great meal and a great time. It is A Phenomenon to eat there. If you are not going to be in Lima, eat at this restaurant. Very trendy (and also noisy, because of defective sound system we were told). We had to wait 5 days for a reservation!
When we arrived they brought us exotic potato chips and 3 dips: Ocopa made of hualcaiwa y huacatay (my favorite), hualcaiwa y rocoto (a little spicy) and hualcaiwa y aji amarillo (also a little spicy). They also brought a basket of chullpi, a crunchy Peruvian roasted corn that I love. We ordered the Cebiche Afrodisiaco (CLP$9.200) of ostras, ostiones y erizos en leche de tigre de erizos to share. It was fabulous and too big for us to finish. We asked to take it home but they said they had nothing to put it in and, anyway, the next day, it wouldn't be good. It would be "cooking" in the lemon juice all night. For our main, we shared the Especiale Atún de isla de pascua a las brasas con glaseado de frutos del bosque y puré de habas (CLP$9.800). The dish was very good. Unfortunately we thought that the tuna wasn't the best we've had. On our new "one glass of wine with dinner" regimen we had a Chocalán Reserva Viognier (CLP$2.900) and it was very good and a generous-sized glass. For dessert we had the Picarones (CLP$3.900) tradicional fritura de zapallo y camotes con miel de higo y especias. They were excellent; crunchy on the outside and yummy on the inside. By the way, we took a regular taxi from the Marriott and back. The cost was CLP$2.540 to go and CLP$1.800 on the way back. Had we taken a hotel taxi/remis, it would have cost CLP$4.800 each way (and definitely not worth it).
1.5 Mercat Restoran, Nueva Costanera 4092, Vitacura, tel (56-2)784-2840, e-mail: email@example.com, web: www.mercatrestoran.cl, also http://restaurantes.emol.com/ficha/ficharest.asp?id_restaurante=6198 Won 2nd place in the Best New Restaurant Category of the Wiken Awards. We spent CLP$41.700 plus tip. There was a delicious amuse bouche of sopa de verduras. We shared the Tartar de Atún con caramelo de soya y aceite de zanahoria (CLP$8.500). It was very good tuna and the preparation was delicious. Then we were brought a sorbet de canela to cleanse our palates and it was lovely. For our main, we shared the oil fish apanado en polvo de pistachos envuelto en crujiente de jamón serrano con ravioles de zuccini relenos con queso de campo y hortalizas al horno (CLP$11.500). This was a new fish for us (called Ecolar from Ecuador) and it was fabulous. We also ordered a Parrillada de verduras con salsa romescu (verduras de la estación) that were very good (CLP$5.500). On our new "one glass of wine with dinner" regimen we had a Chocalán Carménère that was excellent. For dessert we had Mousse de higos con cemino de chocolate (CLP$5.200). Dimitri liked the mousse and I loved the chocolate which was very much like dark chocolate fudge. We also had two decaffeinated espresso coffees (CLP$3.000). The meal was very enjoyable (particularly with the gas heater directed right at us).
1.6 Ox, Av. Nueva Costanera 3960, Vitacura, Santiago, fono: (56-2)799-0260. We spent CLP$63.200 plus tip. The restaurant has a clean modern look. We had fabulous service and fabulous food. It opened in February 2007 and the meat is fantastic. They serve an amuse bouche of 4 items on a long, sleek plate. One was a taste of roast beef in a chutney, one was prosciutto in a sweet onion, one was a crunchy brioche in a raspberry sauce and one was the classic Chilean pebre. We shared everything and started with Foie grass sellado brioche y dulce de maracuyá (CLP$14.900). It was the most sensually delicious fois gras we've had in a long time. There were blueberries in the sauce too. For our main, we had the special Filete Ox con nueso 500 g. (CLP$24.900). It was an unusual filet connected to the back bone. It was cooked perfectly and the bone was wonderful to gnaw on. We also ordered an espinaca a la vapor (CLP$4.900) and an arroz jazmin blanco & juz de carne (CLP$4.500). The au jus was very good and we used it on the meat too (and they brought us more). We each had one (generous) glass of Chocalán Reserva Carménère (CLP$2.800 each) and it was excellent. For dessert we ordered the Isla Flotante de suspiro limeño (CLP$4.500) but we didn't like it so we then ordered the churros with chocolate (CLP$4.500). The churros were great--crunchy on the outside; the chocolate was not to our liking (it was milk chocolate). All in all a wonderful evening.
1.7 Puerto Fuy, Av. Nueva Costanera 3969, Vitacura, fono: (56-2)208-8908 or 206-7391. The chef is Giancarlo Mazzarelli and he is extremely talented; this could be our absolute favorite restaurant in Santiago. We spent CLP$33.800 plus tip and had a wonderful meal, with very good service in a lovely atmosphere. This restaurant does not disappoint; this was our 4th visit. When we first arrived we were brought olive oils to taste from a company called Los Doscientos (I think). We liked the type of oil called Arbequina the best. Then we were brought an amuse bouche of a salad with queso de cabre. It was lovely. We shared everything and started with the Cangrejo cannelloni CLP$8.300/surf crab cannelloni with grana padano sauce. The crab was delicious and very Chilean to pair crab with cheese. We each had a (generous) glass of Casa Silva Viognier (CLP$3.800 x 2) and we really liked it. After our starter we were brought a cleansing basil sorbet that is extraordinary. It was a cold essence of basil. For our main we shared the Turbot with zucchini and pumpkin, potage of scallop and gremolata (CLP$14.200). It was divided in the kitchen for us (which was very nice because it was in an unusual dish). It was excellent and the sauce and vegetables with it were intensely flavorful. Then there was a pre-dessert of Maracuya sorbet with a rum coca on top. Fabulous. For dessert we had a lemon parfait with poppy seeds, pineapple carpaccio and basil and apple sorbet (CLP$5.300). We were unusually happy! The normal-type taxi from the Marriott was CLP$2.200 each way.
2. Good Restaurants
2.1 Anakena Thai Restaurant, Hotel Grand Hyatt, Av. Kennedy 4601, Las Condes, tel (56-2) 950-1234. We had a lovely light meal that cost CLP$28.950 plus tip (for Ricardo who was a great waiter). We shared a Thai maricos salad, a yellow curry with corvina and a sticky rice with mango.
2.2 Café Melba, Don Carlos 2898, Loc 1, Las Condes, fono 232-4546, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, We had a Saturday lunch there, talking to the ex-pats at the next table. It was enjoyable and good. We had one French toast (that Dimitri said was dry) and I had a vegetarian sandwich. Also it has nice salads for lunch.
2.3 Confiteria Torres (de Claudio Soto Barría), Av. Gal. Lib. B. O'Higgins 1570 (The Alameda 1570), fono: (56-2)688-0751, email@example.com, web: www.confiteriatorres.cl We decided to try this restaurant because it is supposed to be old-fashioned typical Chilean. We spent CLP$23.400 plus tip. The room is 19th century and pleasant, with a high ceiling and mustard-colored walls. The service was excellent and the banquette was comfortable (although we couldn't get the table close enough to the end of the seat). The owner, Claudio Soto Barría, was friendly and helpful. They bring sopapillas (deep friend corn breads) with pebre. We shared one Chupe de Locos (típica preparación par uno de los clásicos del mar chileno) CLP$7.600. It was a creamy preparation (and not too cheesy), much better than we've had before. The locos (Chilean abalone) were pounded enough to be tender. Our main was from the Puerto Montt area (but when we were there we never saw this dish on a menu). It was called Arroz Chilote de Misiá María (receta de leyenda chilota, piures y aliños sureños convierten al arroz en un misterio digno de saborear/a legendary recipe from the island of Chiloé/rice, piures (which are like a barnacle) and southern spices) CLP$6.200. It is a dish from Chiloé and more of a soup than a risotto. It was very tasty. With dinner we each had a glass of La Joya Carmènére 2007de Viña Bisquertt (CLP$2.500 each) that was good. For dessert we tried two: a Chimbo Cake CLP$2.200. It's described as "the most notorious dessert from Chile's culinary tradition". We didn't like it--it was too dry for us. The other dessert was a tapioca with blueberry sauce CLP$2.400 and much more to our liking. It was a very nice meal. We took the subway to the restaurant and a bus back. It was a long way--it took about an hour each way.
2.4 Ibis de Puerto Varas, Borde Río, Mons. Escrivá de Balaguer 6400, Loc 4, fono: (56-2)218-0111. It is very difficult to find a restaurant open on Sunday night. Ibis is open on Sunday nights; we have eaten here twice and have had good meals both times. We spent CLP$17.900 plus tip. The bread that is offered is not the kind we like but we’ve noticed it’s popular in Chile. We shared everything and started with scallops in a port wine sauce (CLP$5.800). The scallops were tasty and tender and the sauce was very good (it was more like a soup, actually). For our main we shared a Caldillo de congrio, a soup with potatoes, vegetables and congrio (CLP$6.900). It was delicious and typical Chilean. We each had a glass of Carmen Chardonnay (CLP$3.600 for 2). And we ordered a side dish of rice (CLP$1.600). We couldn’t find a dessert we wanted so we didn’t have coffee either.
2.5 Matsuri at the Hyatt Santiago, fono 950-3051. We had a very nice, light meal on a Sunday night when many (most) restaurants are closed. We spent CLP$17.200 plus tip. They give an amuse bouche which I liked. It was salmon wrapped in nori and then tempura batter, served room temperature. We each had a Chawan Mushi (CLP$4.500 x2) which was excellent. It's a traditional Japanese chicken flan with seafood of the day. Dimitri had a Nabe Yaki soup CLP$7.000 with steamed udon noodles, vegetables and shrimp. He liked it. The service was excellent.
2.6 The Gaon Korean Restaurant, Av. Manquehue Sure # 674, Santiago, fono: (56-2) 242-0082, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, web: http://www.gaon.cl We spent CLP$15.400 plus CLP$3.000 tip and had a very good meal. We had Tofu Sobaqui (CLP$4.500) which was pan-fried tofu stuffed with shitake mushrooms and was crunchy, unusual and very good. It was served with a white vinegar and a spicy hoisen sauce. We also started with Chap Chae (CLP$4.200) which was sweet potato noodles stir-fried with vegetables. The noodles were excellent but the dish was thin on vegetables. Then we had our favorite Dol Sot Bibim Bap (CLP$5.500) which is rice topped with vegetables and meat served in hot stone pot where the rice at the bottom gets crunchy. We had té verde (CLP$1.200) and Susu Tok, a rice cake with covered with a dusting of sweet bean (CLP$3.200) that was unusual and very good. Because the dessert took so long, we weren't charged for it either.
3. Restaurants that we wouldn’t recommend
3.1 Asian Bistro, Boulevard Parque Arauco,Av. Kennedy 5413, Loc 373, Las Condes, fono: (56-2) 220-1430, web: www.asianbistro.cl CLP$6.100 plus tip. We decided to give this restauarnt another chance; this time for lunch. We had one chicken lettuce wraps (CLP$3.600). The filling was bland and uninteresting. And, we had one szechuan hot and sour soup (CLP$2.500). The soup was thin, had few vegetables and, although spicy, was not sour. Again, we think that this restaurant fails to deliver--it is neither here nor there.
3.2 Sukalde (el Saber del Sabor), Bilbao No. 460 (esq. Av. Italia), Providencia, fono: (56-2)665-1017, e-mail: email@example.com, web: firstname.lastname@example.org. We spent CLP$25.900 plus tip and had a delicious meal but we still wouldn’t recommend the restaurant. The chef, Matias Palomo Reyes, is gifted but the restaurant has problems.
The first and foremost problem is that it is a smoking restaurant. We didn’t go there in 2007 because we were told that when we called for a reservation. In 2008, I searched the restaurant’s website and found nothing that would have alerted me to it being a smoking restaurant. When I made the online reservation, I specified in the message section of the reservation request that we wanted a no smoking section. We got a confirmation (and the no smoking section request was visible) of our reservation. So we were surprised when we got to the door and saw the “this is a smoking restaurant” sign. We almost left but were told they only had 3 reservations that night. They have two rooms and we chose one and asked that they not put smokers in that room with us. No one actually smoked in the room where we were eating.
The second problem for the restaurant is the location. For people on the east side, in Las Condes, it is very far and, the intersection where the restaurant is located, is decrepit.
The third problem for the restaurant is the décor. It looks shabby and not well thought-out. There is a circular hole between the two dining rooms and it is not a true circle. The doorway between the two rooms is kind of rough-hewn too. The art on the walls is nothing special.
We thought that the molecular food preparation was excellent. The service was proper and the banquette seats were comfortable. The temperature of the room was good. We were brought an amuse bouche that was good—a potato chip with a dollop of mole on it. The bread was not special, however. We shared everything and started with the Ostion frito in tempura morada y puré de topinambur y variación de sabors/sea scallops fried in purple corn tempura with topinambur pure (a tuber that tastes like artichoke) and flavors (CLP$6.200). The scallops were sweet, the crust was crunchy and tasty and the topings very good. The purée was delicious. On our “one glass of wine with dinner” regimen, we had a delicious Leyda Classic Reserva Sauvignon Blanc (CLP$3.200 each). For our main, we shared a fish we really like. It is called konzo and it was served with puré de hinojo y raiol de manzana y aire de camarón y albahaca/konzo with fennel pure and apple ravioli and basil shrimp air and alcayota in red wine (CLP$9.600). The dish was excellent. The piece of fish was large and flavorful, the ravioli was in a creative, transparent pasta-like wraper and we loved the fennel purée. We also ordered one dessert. Dimitri really liked the sopaipillas pasadas (CLP$3.700) which was three things (none of which resembled sopaipillas). One was a mote, a barley-like pudding, another corn-like pudding and (I think) ice cream. So the food was really good but it took us an hour each way to get to the restaurant by public transportation.