BORAGó 

Posted on January 15, 2016

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The first time I heard about Boragó was probably three months ago. I was sat at my kitchen table in Istanbul reading the Financial Times Magazine. The word Santiago bounced off the page and my eyes darted across the article.

    
Fifty of the Best Restaurants Award had named it as 8th in the world. I assumed it was a new venture as I had not heard anything about it and I read everything about hospitality and food around the world. I later learned from the owner and head chef Rodolfo Guzmán that Boragó has been open for eight years and it has been a labour of love. Like most chefs I have known it has been a very difficult ride, at times with the future of Boragó hanging in the balance. Running a restaurant is one of the most stressful and unpredictable businesses there is, it’s also the quickest way to lose money. The roulette of the culinary world is cruel and luck plays a huge role.

I remember logging onto the website that day to see if I could get a table for one. Nada! I tried several dates and all said no availability. Frustrated and disappointed I pinged an email to a friend and dear contact in PR hospitality – Mrs Spoon. Within two days I had a table at 8pm on my chosen date. Hurrah!

Arriving for dinner on Thursday I was excited and ravenous. I’d spent the day exploring the fish and veg market, the famous cemetery in Recoletta, walked through the city park, visited the famous Catholic Cathedral and Chilean Musuem of Art. A hearty soup of Conga Eel and vegetables was all I had eaten for eight hours – not enough for a woman who has been told she has a Tiger shark appetite.

    
The exterior of the restaurant is beautiful. It sits in a classy neighbourhood called Vitacura where you can smell money as well as the sauce reduction wafting into the air. A shiny metal front with bold lettering. Looks very Californian. Inside simple, minimalistic. No fuss. It’s all about the flavours.

  
Inside there is a bar area where the long surface is crowded with delicately made bite-size amuse Bouche that the Matri’d encourages you to taste. A sweet, light donought stuffed with a teaser of salty meat sets my rates buds going: “Oh boy this is gonna be good,” I smiled to myself.

    
In the 17 years of eating in fine dining restaurants I have never had an entire brigade come out of the kitchen and line up to greet me. Plus service as in full swing. I almost fell over. I was embarrassed, a tad nervous who they thought I was but hugely flattered. Mrs Spoon had given me a glowing endorsement as a foodie/TV personality. God love that woman!!
I was seated at corner table but with a full view of the open kitchen. I was going to get a performance while eating. How marvellous. The kitchen is long and pretty big as areas go and is behind glass to offer the staff some privacy. It is also bi-lingual. Spanish and English as not everyone shares fluency in both languages – complicated – but something I can relate to as this is how the gallery team in Istanbul function.

The courses came in quick succession paired with wine and extra glasses of wine that was offered up to me by the charming Sommelier Dragan. With each plate one of the sous chefs came out to explain the ingredients and the ideology behind the creation in front of me. The presentation was impressive. I have no idea what the ingredients were in some cases as Rudolfo has tried to use indigenous ingredients. All I know is that I was stuffed and amazed in equal measure. One dish which totally blew my mind was a soft textured black pate-textured paste. It covered a stone and was baked. When it appeared it had small cracks in its surface resembling a macaroon cookie. A hot miso-like broth was poured over it which softened it and then two flavours combined were startling. I’ve never had anything like that before. I loved the way the dish changed at each stage.

  
After dinner I was shown where the magic happens in the kitchen as well as the test kitchen upstairs and had time to talk to two of the chefs in depth as well as Rodolfo before they called a cab. I was the last diner to leave. Ply me with alcohol and get me talking about food and I’ll never shut up.

A wonderful experience and if you find yourself in Santiago – try to go! It does not have a Michelin star but i secretly I hope it doesn’t get one. That award can sometimes be a curse to some places: added pressure, more expense to maintain that level and the “wrong” kind of people coming to eat. The overly critical who have more money than sense and zero idea about food, the business or what it means to run a kitchen. 

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