Restaurant Borago, Santiago, Chile
We are on a one night stopover in Santiago, Chile, on our way to Brazil. And while in one of our favourite cities in the world, we are of course taking the opportunity to try one of its very best restaurants, Borago. But first, let us just quickly set the scene a little…
We have flown from Perth to Sydney, then spent almost two hours queuing to check in for our Sydney to Auckland flight (yes that is even flying at the front of the plane, don’t ask :)), then had to rush to board our plane, which then sat on the tarmac for more than an hour, landed at Auckland to have our name called by the airline crew, queued more to find out why but no one could tell us, just made it to our Auckland to Santiago flight, and then flew the eleven hours to Santiago. It’s all good, we made it, but we are still a little frazzled as we make our way for dinner at Borago, and then…
We get in our Uber to the restaurant and our driver is stopped by the police, questioned and detained! Eventually we are told to get out of the car and to find another transport option! Which was not easy.
So, we finally arrive at Borago, a long time member of the World’s Top 100 Restaurants. It is a much anticipated dinner, but with an inauspicious start to the evening!
At the time of our visit Borago is ranked 27th in the world, making it the fourth highest ranked restaurant in Latin America. It has recently moved to the upmarket locale of Vitacura, one of Santiago’s northern suburbs, into a modern, purpose-designed building of concrete, glass and high ceilings. Whilst this may not sound particularly warm or inviting, this first impression is quickly dispelled by the warmth of the welcome from the Borago team – enthusiastic and smiling, they are clearly dedicated to their restaurant and their craft, and obviously very proud of what they are about to present to us as their guests.
Normally at an experiential dining restaurant such as Borago, we would take a you-only-live-once approach to the menu, but on this occasion, the events of the previous 24 hours meant that (uncommon) wisdom prevailed and we declined the 15 course degustation in favour of the “more restrained” 8 course offering. We also regretfully passed on the matching wines, knowing exhaustion was imminent.
Instead we commenced with aperitifs, a local gin and tonic for D, and pisco and tonic for A. Both are expertly mixed and presented and are welcomely refreshing after a long journey to get here.
An amuse bouche soon follows – a cigar-shaped stick of dried and roasted seaweed from the Chilean coastline, set upon a thick cream of fermented yoghurt. It tastes of sea and salt and tang, delicately balanced and clever, without necessarily being delicious (in what would become a recurrent theme for the evening).
The meal proper then commences – eight small dishes each designed to highlight the bounty of local Chilean produce, foraged from its mountains to its fjords, its deserts to its expansive coastline. There are rock vegetables and rare mushrooms, razor clams and sea urchins, potato breads and fermented leaves, each course passionately presented and proudly explained by the presenting team member. Like the amuse bouche, many are complex in their flavour, stunningly presented and interesting to try, whilst not necessarily having us rush back for seconds.
Our favourite dish of the evening was the slow cooked lamb. Lovingly roasted for eight hours on the open outdoor fire, visible from the dining room, the meat was perfectly cooked, slightly on the pink side, with a welcome saltiness, and was a memorable end to the savoury courses.
A duo of desserts then followed, an ice cream sandwich delicately adorned with rose petals, and a frozen gin and tonic parfait encased in smashable black ice.
Boldly experimental, and passionate in its advocacy of local Chilean produce and little-known ingredients, Borago is certainly a dining experience. While perhaps a little lacking in deliciousness at times (admittedly perhaps also reflecting our travel-weary state), it was still a memorable dinner, and certainly a noteworthy way to enjoy our Santiago stopover.