- I had a 9 hour layover in Bogota on my way to Santiago Chile.
- Through horrific planning, I didn’t bring any cash with me to exchange for Colombian Pesos. Google Maps was super unreliable to tell me what restaurants are cash only or accept credit card, so I did a little bit of digging on TripAdvisor to get a lunch after a morning of hopping around the different museums in Bogota.
- I was able to snag a noon reservation at El Chato, which had previously received accolades such as being ranked #7 for LatAm’s best 50 restaurants in 2019.
- With the exchange rate being incredibly favorable for the US against the Colombian Peso, with the Colombian Peso being at a 20 year low, the 10 course tasting menu ends up being $46.63 without a wine pairing, or $82.67 with the wine pairing. Obviously, I had to opt in for the wine pairing, the value was way too good for me to pass up on.
- I recognize my privilege, and if factoring for purchase price parity, this meal would easily cost 5x as much in LA
- 10 courses and 7 full glasses of wine later, I was stuffed and drunk and ready to complete the rest of my trip down to Santiago. It was an extraordinary meal with outstanding execution, with flavors that will be among the best bites I’ve had in 2022 [if not the past 5 years!]
- I would highly recommend checking El Chato out and any other elite restaurants in Bogota.
- I really enjoyed watching the bar prep cocktails and desserts in front of me
- Atmosphere never felt too stuffy
- Lunch service was expectedly empty, given how much this meal would cost to the average Colombian
- None of the starters are expensive by American standards, the most expensive item, the Chicken Hearts, clock in at 37k COP, or just under $8USD
- The 20 ounce/600g tomahawk is the most expensive main course, and that’s at $42.39
- I was curious to know if I ought to order any supplements from the a la carte menu, but the waiter reassured me that there will be plenty of food to keep me full. Great call on his end, though I do want to revisit and do a la carte.
- My Spanish is terrible, and every course’s explanation fell on deaf ears
- Incredible statement of an opener
- Bouncy, butter-perfumed, mochi-mochi chewy texture on the bread.
- Incredible corn aroma on the interior that fills your nostrils as you chew on it
- Sidecar of rich, not-too-fatty bone broth [unsure of the animal, I want to say chicken forward??]
– The Bouquet Garni of Rosemary & Opal Basil punctuated the broth with a freshness that reminds me of Christmas; just a great opener to lower your guard and relax you
- a very fun play on a French Classic
- Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside tapioca critter topped with smooth whipped airy chicken liver
- To provide the acidity, blackberries gave an excellent pop, and so did the freshly boiled tapioca for the one-two punch
- Tiny one biter, big impact
Course 2: Granadilla [A Variant of Passion Fruit] w/ Orejero seeds, Cashew Cream, Granadilla Leche de Tigre HIGHLIGHT DISH
- When I tasted this, one thing came to mind: the most incredible Japanese sesame dressing I’ve ever tasted in my life
- Yet, unlike inferior sesame dressings, this has a levity and balance that doesn’t leave an aftertaste that makes you crave water.
- The sweetness and tartness provided by the granadilla is masterfully balanced by the velvety thick cashew cream
- The leche de tigre provides just enough umami to the dish while also providing wonderful acid to keep this refreshing
- Texturally, the mouth-feel of melted ice cream, with the crunch of the orejero seeds
- Highlight dish!
- Holy f*ck, perhaps the most mind-blowing oyster dish I’ve had in my life. While the oysters at Yoshizumi in San Mateo & Kaneyoshi’s sous-vide oyster are mind-blowing in how they challenge my conceptions of an oyster’s texture and aroma
– yoshizumi’s being raw and plump with the texture of an over-stuffed waterballoon that’s tooth-delicate
– kaneyoshi’s being steaky, meaty, and without any hint of stink
- El Chato’s preparation is a study in complexity and an insanity for bold, chaotic flavors
- First of all, the oyster is massive; the shell is bigger than if I were to link my hands together and form a giant fist
- The oyster meat is torched and chopped into at least 6 distinct bites for me to enjoy over and over again; the torch gives way to remind me of a Dynamite Roll in Japanese American restaurants
- Yet, that richness and smokeiness is immediately balanced by the clarified tamarind both, which is bursting with oceanic flavor yet sour-sweet to the tune of a great Vietnamese Canh Chua, which I could describe as a less tart and less spicy version of a Thai Tom Yum
-The balled pears provide both a wonderful sweetness and crunch to juxtapose the creamy, meaty oyster
There are 3 elements of tomato in this dish:
- The tomato water, which I assume is fermented;
- there’s a heavily cooked and roasted tomato that sits underneath the crab;
- there’s freshly cut green and red tomatoes that provide a nice fresh flavor that’s definitely different from the first 2 tomato elements.
- The dish eats like an aguachile; its tart, savory, bright, with delicious sweet, briny crab
- The tomato broth tastes like worcestershire sauce, if it were freshly made - umami AF, with good sweetness and a noticeable acidity and complexity
- The crab was a little lost in the dish, but overall still really tasty
Course 5: Boronia, A Colombian Dish of Grilled Eggplants, Toamtoes, and Sweet Plantains with Orejero Glaze HIGHLIGHT DISH
- So Boronia is a Colombian dish that’s amde of mashed ripe plantains, eggplants, and tomatoes
- By charring the eggplant [both the piece that’s covered in chives] and the black sauce, it easily can remind you of a solid baba ghanoush, that’s slightly sweeter and more savory, because of the plantains and the tomatoes
- As a drink pairing, the bartender provided this wonderful pour of mezcal, lychee, and pomelo that tasted like a really good limited edition flavor of Japanese Ramune? It was like fighting smoke with smoke
- However I truly believe that the sweetness from this drink pairing unlocked another tasting profile that this dish reminded me of: Chinese Yuxiang, or Fish Fragrant eggplant
- because of the meaty, and perfectly cooked eggplant underneath the chives, and the eggplant still retaining it’s snappy yet supple skin, along with the tartness of the tomatoes AND the sweetness of the drink, it somehow evokes 3 different dishes in one.
- Crazy, crazy dish
- my first time having Corvina, which is a popular fish to eat in Central and South America
- mildly sweet, big flakes, eats kind of like a steak
- incredible crust and sear
- perfectly cooked romanesco and peas
- delightful makrut lime sauce instantly reminds you of Thailand, and the wine pairing brings out the acidity in what I believe to be burnt onion oil
- Great dish!
- slight miss for me
- perfectly cooked, dry aged beef
- just a tad too salty
- Potatoes were salty
- romaine lettuce was warm, which I’m not a big fan of
- The combination of the burned butter, and the slightly sweet crust on the beef did remind of me a Vietnamese Bo Luc Lac, which was rather enjoyable
- Paired wonderfully with an Italian Sangiovese that perfumed of Rose Petals
Course 8: Dessert 1 - Pineapple Chips, Pineapple Sorbet, Coconut Cream & Caramelized Banana HIGHLIGHT DISH
- an absolute banger of a dessert
- These pineapple chips were completely crispy and flakey, true to the description, inferior pineapple chips still have a touch of moisture to them or a certain stickiness to them that is unappealing to me; these were caramelized and shattered pretty easily
- The pineapple sorbert was tangy and fragrantly refreshing
- the base of the dessert is a coconut cream that’s supplemented with hydrated coconut flakes to provide both creaminess and body to the entire dessert
- those brown bon-bons are actually heavily caramelized bananas that provided an awesome dense, chewy contrast to the other elements in the dessert
- lastly, the addition of fresh cilantro/coriander was a genius play to give just a touch of green and freshness to the entire dessert without necessarily adding more sweetness or obvious flavor
- mambe is a tea made of toasted coca leaves. Strangely enough, I initially thought this was matcha, and probably tricked my mind into perceiving it as matcha
-I genuinely thought this tasted like matcha, and I don’t know if that’s because I gaslit myself into thinking that
- Overall, very solid dessert that had a ton of textures too
- The dark rectangular base is a quinoa-based cookie that had the density of a nice brownie
- The quinelle of ice cream tasted like fresh cream and honey
- The hershey’s kiss-looking droplet in front had a certain bounce and chew to it, presumably that’s the marshmallow
- Great dessert, just not as emotional/mind-blowing as the previous one
Overall, genuinely happy I got the chance to dine here and will be paying attention to the Bogota food scene going forward. The hospitality was attentive, and the food was emotional, probably the closest I’ve felt to crying?? It was one of those meals that really made me question everything I knew about food, the culture, the politics, my assumptions. The melding of different flavors so expertly did make me feel like an idiot