I enjoy a good tasting menu, especially ones not with NYC prices, and when I saw that a Santiago restaurant had been named as one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World, I planned our first night in Santiago eat at that exact restaurant – Borago!!
Borago is the brainchild of chef Rodolfo Guzmán. Opened in 2006, Borago displays Chile’s wide range of native foods, many of which you cannot find elsewhere, in innovative dishes and designs. In addition to being named as one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World (# 27 to be exact!) in 2018, Guzmán also won the 2015 Chefs’ Choice Award.
Borago is open every night except Sunday and offers seatings starting at around 19h30. A meal here takes the entire evening, so no one will be sitting at your table after your meal. We opted for a 19h30 dinner, and thank goodness, because we were there for a long, long time (like 00h)! Borago is located outside of the main touristy area and about a 15 minute from our hotel in Vitacura. Since it was closeish to our hotel, we walked, seeing some interesting sites before finally reaching Borago right on time!
The staff knew exactly who we were when we walked in the door and we were promptly seated next to a window overlooking an indoor garden. The waiter also confirmed our order – which is a set menu of “16 – 20” or 6 courses. We opted for the “16 – 20” course meal and also took the wine pairing, which was eight pretty full glasses of wine served throughout the meal.
Shortly after being seated, our waiter brought over our first “taste,” “filtered rain water from the south of Chile.” I kid you not, the below is filtered rain water from the south of Chile. It was unlimited for all guests all dinner! Ha! While it tasted like regular water to me, Dan and I could barely keep a straight face. We had a lot of this rain water throughout the evening…
We also ordered pre-dinner cocktails to accompany our unlimited rain water. I opted for a spin on the pisco sour – the “Green Pisco Sour,” and it was very tasty! Dan ordered a gin and tonic with cardamon stuffed frozen cheery tomato and rosemary. He said it was very good. Pro tip, if you are doing the wine pairing, you probably do not need extra cocktails to start, but they were certainly fun!
Pretty quickly after the cocktails came the food and the tasting menu. Our first course was a Chilenito served on a piece of rubber. Dan tried his best to eat the rubber. A Chilenito is a traditional dessert cookie, but this one was savory and made with seafood. I was a bit scared to try it, but it was extremely tasty and I enjoyed the savory play on a sweet dish. I would have another without question.
Our first wine was served next – a 2017 white organic wine from Cachapoal, Chile. I really loved the wolf on the bottle, although I don’t really remember what it tasted like. The wine was served with our next course, of which I don’t know the name. But, it was a tasty fish thing on a cracker. Very good. It reminded me of tuna on a cracker (one of my favorites!).
Next up, was a traditional Chilean bread with kefir butter. The bread and butter were excellent and a nice way to break up the eclectic seafood dishes. YUM.
The bread was followed with another small plate – “soup” with spinach leaves, mushrooms, and whey. For such a big bowl, there was only a tiny bit of liquid in this soup! I recall this soup being fine, but not having much taste!
Our next round of wine came out just as we were finishing our whey “soup,” and it was a 2015 Los Patricios Chardonnay from the Valle de Itata. I am usually not a big Chardonnay fun, but this was was particularly good! This Chardonnay was accompanied by a dish similar to abalone served with edible flowers. I was nervous to try this dish (because it looked like oysters), but it was actually quite good and tasted much more like tuna than oyster in my opinion. Definite points for the pretty flowers (which had no taste).
After the prettiest dish came another glass of wine and my least favorite dish of the evening. The wine was a glass of white wine from the Atacama Valley in Chile. The dish was a plate of things from the sea, featuring sea chard, seaweed, sea asparagus, and sea spinach. I’m not a fan, at all, of sea vegetables, so this was certainly not my favorite dish. It tasted like vegetables that had been grown in the sea. Nevertheless, it was quite pretty.
Next up, yet another glass of wine, this one a 2018 Sauvignon Blanc by LabeRinto. I liked this wine, a lot. Our Sauvignon Blanc was paired with a dish that looked a lot like a succulent. This dish was indeed an actual succulent, bean puree, squid ink, and some other things that I do not recall. The dish was actually quite good!
Our next course consisted of another glass of wine, this one without even a pre-printed label! The wine was paired with the a dish made with the conger eel, a speciality in Chile. I had originally planned not to try conger eel, but it was very good and tasted a lot like cod. The plating was also gorgeous!
We next moved from seafood to meat and were served grilled duck on red plum leaves and a miso made of mura. It reminded me a lot of the pigeon Chainsaw Massacre that I had at 100 Manerias before my wedding! Dan is unfortunately allergic to duck, so his was served with beets (which I actually preferred!). This dish was (finally) paired with a red wine – a 2017 Pinot Noir.
Our final savory dish was one of the best – lamb cooked “A la inverse” and mille feuille of black chauras from Patagonia. So this lamb was actually roasting in Borago’s parking lot when we arrived (and it was still there when we left). A very cool concept! The black chauras were the little red fruits, which tasted just like apples!
Our lamb was paired with another delicious glass of red wine from Chile!
Our lamb concluded the savory portion of our meal. We next moved on to what, in my option, was the best part of the entire meal – 3 dessert courses!! Our first dessert was the most ADORABLE sweet that looked like a black sheep, and it was very cutely entitled the “black sheep.” The Black Sheep consisted of toasted apple vinegar marshmallow, sheep’s milk cheese, and sheep’s milk snow, and some chocolate. Absolutely delicious, but almost (ALMOST) too cute to eat!
We were also given a glass of sparkling wine – a blanc de blanc – to compliment our desserts!
Our next to last course was a half ice cream sandwich and half black brulee of bitter plants. This was one of my favorite courses because it was so pretty! One half was ice cream topped with these pretty pink flowers and the other half was a black brulee (like a creme brulee!).
I do not have a good picture of our final course, but Dan has one forever posted on his Instagram, and here’s one of him here! In short, it was a little sweet bite made with dry ice so its “smoking” when it arrives and when you bite into it, you look kind of like a dragon! I don’t really remember what it tasted like, but it was fun to eat!
STEAL OUR TRIP
Borago: Av San Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer 5970, Vitacura, Región Metropolitana, Chile. Closed Sunday, seatings every other night between 19h and 22h30. We arrived at 19h and stayed until 23h30. Reservations are essential and can be made on Borago’s website. That being said, however, when we visited, reserving months in advance was not required. We actually changed our reservation a week prior thereto. The 16-20 course tasting menu, which we did, was about $100 US/person, with another $75 US for the wine pairing, which is not required (although there is no a la carte wine list). There is a smaller, 6 course tasting menu for $85 US and a smaller wine pairing for $60 US. Up to date pricing information is on Borago’s website.
ON A BUDGET
If you are on a tight budget, Borago is probably not a good splurge unless you are a big foodie! The one budget point is that Borago is a great deal for this quality of food and service, which would be more than double in other large cities.