Jan 7 2015

Borago

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Borago was named the best restaurant in Chile and the 8th best restaurant in Latin America in the St Pellegrino restaurants awards. Borago reminded me a lot of Noma and Narisawa, and it is a restaurant that is very in line with nature, and tries not only to make beautiful dishes but use a lot of natural ingredients and for the food to have a story. It describes itself as a dialogue between nature and cuisine. Chile is such a diverse country due to its long size and Borago uses ingredients across the country, from the Andean mountains to the plains of Patagonia.

The main chef at Borago is Rodolfo Guzman who opened Borago in 2007 in the Vitacura district of Santiago. In his cooking he likes to use methods passed down the generations, and you can see dishes cooked on rocks and ingredients smoked over timber sourced from different Chilean regions. All the dishes that we were given were aesthetically amazing, Borago offers some of the best presentation of dishes I have seen anywhere in the world.

When we arrived at the restaurant at 9pm it was quite empty and it only got full at around 10/10.30, showing how late Chileans really eat. The kitchen was located on one side of the dining room and you could see the chefs cooking through the glass window. The restaurant had minimalistic décor, like Noma and Narisawa, with wooden (in line with nature) tables. The waiters were good and offered us creative pisco sours and other aperitifs (we had a wine and strawberry cocktail and a passion fruit pisco sour). I also very much liked how the chefs themselves came out and introduced all the dishes that followed and told you more about each dish. I have seen this in Noma before.

There was no a la carte at Borago and you could chose a meal from one of the 2 tasting menus - Endémica (10 courses) or Raqko (6 courses). As we were eating a lot of tasting menus on this trip, we decided to go for the smaller one – Raqko. The Endemica tasting menu had all the Raqko dishes plus 4 extra ones. I was watching the neighbouring tables and most of them had the longer, Endemica, menu, and some of the dishes that they had were stunning. The tasting menu changes frequently to show “what is happening around the country in every moment”.

Before we started our meal, we were given “Pebre of harina tostada with a marraqueta” or pepper and toasted flour with marraqueta bread, which in reality was warm bread in a brown bag and a take on the traditional Chilean tomato, coriander and onion salsa that they eat with bread. This modified salsa was delicious and much better than the traditional one (even though I love the traditional). The first course we were served was a venison (from Patagonia) tartar, which was served with a traditional Chilean edible leaf. The venison tartar was delicious and had a lovely deep flavour to it that was not too strong.

The next course that arrived was similar in presentation, it also had edible leaves stacked up, this time darker/ browner coloured ones and it was served with “chupe” (cooked down stew) of wild pine mushrooms from Chile. The mushrooms had a deep intense flavour, and it was another stunning, “theatrical” dish, but I can’t say that the taste blew me away.

The next 2 courses were part of the “rock sequence” of Borago and the first one was called “Cremoso of rock herbs”. It looked like rocks and herbs growing through the rocks, something you could find near the sea, the presentation once again was absolutely beautiful. The rocks were crackers made out of squid and the herb was samphire. Once again though my boyfriend and I thought that the presentation somewhat overshadowed the actual taste, which did not blow you away. The other dish from the rock sequence was called “rocks from Quintay” (Quintay is a seaside town, close to Valpairiso in the middle of Chile). This was probably the most memorable dish of the whole meal. We were given a plate with what looked like 2 rocks. One of them (the smaller one) was a deep fried in charcoal conger eel, the traditional Chilean fish that everyone eats. It was lovely, there was not really a hint of unpleasant charcoal, the conger eel was very nicely done. The other rock (bigger one), was an actual rock in the middle, but the thin layer outside (which you were supposed to eat) was made out of some sort of fish risotto or something like that, and you were encouraged to sip the soup first and then eat the rock. The whole dish had a strong fish flavour and was very unusual. Did I like it – yes absolutely, but was it the best thing to eat for my palette – not sure.

The next dish, the last savoury course, was also extremely impressive and was called “Veal in its milk from Parral”. The veal was sources from a little farm in Parral (town south of Santiago) and then was cooked in its own milk (which my boyfriend said sounded a bit weird to him). The whole dish was in these brown colours and the veal was covered in these brown leaves, that were not actually leaves but made out of milk. The veal was extremely tender, but the whole cooking it in its own milk made it taste a bit strange, it was an unusual flavour, that my boyfriend was not too keen on.

The 2 desserts we were given were “Chilota sheep’s milk with chupones” and “Dessert of wild pine mushrooms” as well as a last interesting thing – the frio glacial. The Chilota sheep lives in the south of Chile and we were given a beautiful plate made out of ice, which was very slowly melting and on top of it what looked like a winter garden with sheep milk cream, which had a refreshing and slightly sweet flavour and which was covered in ice and what the chef described as Chilean truffles – the Chilean white strawberries. These strawberries can only be acquired at certain times of the year in the Andes. The strawberries were not as sweet as some of the red ones you can get in Europe, but it was a nice and refreshing dish.

I actually really enjoyed the other dessert with wild pine mushrooms. We were given a mushroom ice cream, some caramel bread crumbs and a cookie and were encouraged to break the cookie and eat everything together. There was also a branch of a pine tree infused with the smell of eucalyptus and mint, to help you eat the dish. The little pine tree branch smelled amazing, it smelled most of eucalyptus and I loved the smell, I kept smelling it. Taste-wise I was super sceptical about this dish at first, as when you hear mushroom ice cream, you don’t exactly rush to eat it, but the ingredients together tasted really nice. I actually thought it was an amazing dish, as individually the ingredients were just ok, but as you ate all the bits together, it worked superbly and balanced each other out and was a great dish. This was probably my favourite dish of the meal.

The last dessert/ snack was frio glacial and the chef came over with what looked like a small white mousse and told me to take it with my hands (I was sceptical about touching a mousse like texture with my hands at first, but could do it) and then eat it. Not thinking much about it, I did it, and then the surprise kicked it. It created some sort of smoke reaction and all I could see was white smoke coming out of my mouth and me having this cold sensation. It was so unusual, I was very shocked about what was happening, but in a positive way.

I thought Borago delivered some of the most stunning and well thought out dishes I have ever seen in the world. The presentation was amazing. However we both thought that the meal (apart from the wild pine mushroom ice cream for me, but not for my boyfriend) lacked star dishes, the sort of dishes you ate and think are amazing. The taste of a lot of the dishes was powerful, but not necessarily delicious, and our meal at Borago was visually better than how it tasted. 

Date: 07/ 01/ 15
Location: Santiago
Price for 2 people with some alcohol: I can’t remember

Maija rated: 

4.50

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Borago
Av. Nueva Costanera 3467 Vitacura,
Santiago
Chile
CL
Borago Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4.5