Most restaurants I visit after careful research, at least those at the higher end of fine dining. Bitter experience has taught me that recommendations from strangers are well-intentioned but rarely live up to the hype. One American couple I met in Uruguay insisted I take out my phone and tap in the name of a restaurant in Santiago… I carefully typed ‘Bocanáriz’ into my Notes app a few days before my Chilean adventure.
Location: José Victorino Lastarria 276, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Opening Hours: Sundays CLOSED, Mo-We: 1-11.30pm, Thu-Fri: 1-12.30pm, Sa: 1pm-1am
Website: Click here
The name was not to the forefront of my mind until I started to browse for a lunch option near my hotel, the Crowne Plaza in Santiago. “Where did I see that name before”? It looked like a five minute walk to the Lastarria District and worth a shot to see if they had a lunch table free.
Google Maps led me down one little alleyway after another (there was a perfectly serviceable road I could have taken, which I learned after my meal). There was graffiti everywhere and here it was of decent quality, something I came to appreciate as there is so much of it in South America.
Many of the buildings in this district are low set. Despite this, the restaurant (shown below in grey/brown) stretches pretty far back.
At 12.45, only a couple of other tables were occupied, but the restaurant filled up very quickly.
The space is set out in a maze of interconnecting spaces. In one, there is a huge wine list on one wall, and Bocanáriz has won numerous Decanter awards for this wine list. This works fantastically if you are in a couple, or a group, but for the single eater, it’s harder to find a good quality wine by the glass.
The waitress had clear ideas about what wine would match my meal and was insistent that I try a particular Carmenère, which was also the dearest wine on that part of the list. I do appreciate the intervention, but still want to make my own choice. Saying that, I still took the option she suggested!
It was pretty good. However, not one single time did I have a bad glass of wine in Chile, including when I bought a ‘supermarket special’!
My ability to decipher handwriting is not quite up to making up all of the label that came on the foot of the wine glass beyond ‘Carmenere 2014’. The label is charming though!
On the food front, I opted for just a main course, but this French bread was too good to resist. Sigh. Carbaholic.
The main course was a wagyu beef stew with carrots and purple potatoes. The white cubes you can see in the picture below are tofu, fitting a Japanese thread that went through the menu. However, while this broth had some umami dark notes, it remained very much a French-style sauce. There is no complaint from me about that: the flavour was excellent and worth the recommendation.
I went on to recommend Bocanáriz to two groups of friends travelling through Chile and both tried it and reported back that it continues to be a great choice for fine dining in a bistro setting.