Coquinaria: The Jury’s Still Out

CoquinariaThis is a place we’ve had our eye on for quite a while. A new concept in Santiago, an upscale market offering gourmet products (Chilean and imported)—a foodie’s delight—and tables indoors and out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

We stopped by with friends the other night, originally on our way to someplace else, but stopped in to check it out and decided to stay.

The ambiance is delightful. Modern yet cozy, sophisticated yet friendly. My kinda place.

But I am sad to say that the dining side of the set-up still needs work.

Granted, it was the night before elections and they wanted to close up early… Maybe the chef had to travel out of town to vote the next day. Maybe the kitchen staff was on some campaign trail–or catering a night-before strategy meeting for one of the candidates… we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt… this time…

We sat at one of the outdoor tables; perfect on a warm summer night in Santiago.The waiter immediately suggested we order our drinks first because he could only serve alcohol until 9:00 (ok, fine, although the law says midnight before elections. But let’s not quibble there. They want to get outta there early tonight–like most of the other places around town).

As the waiter served my pisco sour and I stared at the funky orange color, he commented that it’s because they use brown sugar. It concentrated the fruit in such a way that instead of being crisp refreshing, it was more like nectar. I’m all for experimenting with pisco sours, but this is an innovation I could happily live without.

A number of the dishes on the short menu were unavailable, and the server was not able to correctly explain the ingredients in some that were… Someone in the group asked about the gnocchis topped with gremolata, upon which he explained that gremolata was a little potato, which, of course, it most definitely is not. For the record, it’s a topping made finely chopped parsley, garlic, and grated lemon zest…also for the record, in the final result  the dish was overpowered by lemon (I suspect a whopping dose of lemon juice found its way into the sauce). Too bad, although one of the people who ordered it liked it quite a bit.

There’s a vegetarian in my favorite eating community, so we asked for 2 orders of bruschetta for starters that made absolutely no mention of meat in their description (I believe it was tomato and cheese), but what arrived was a beautifully prepared assortment of toasts topped with salmon, beef, and jamón Serrano… great for me, but not for the veggie guy. When we questioned it, the server shrugged and said, “this is what you asked for” (no points earned there).

My “freshly made” duck raviole with port sauce was hard around the edges (the pasta dried out before cooking) and the sauce a tad too sweet for my taste (it WAS made from port sauce, so I should’ve expected it, although I had hoped for a bit more balance.).

A few problems with the wine service—the kind of thing that you expect in a family-style restaurant but not in a place aiming for chic-cool.

Price? Pretty much in line with other places in the neighborhood, about $22,000 CLP per couple with wine, appetizers, and main course—no dessert, no coffee.

Will I go back?

Yes. I want to like this place. I really do. So I’ll give them another chance. I hear they do a nice Sunday brunch (don’t get enough of those in Santiago), and I bet their lunch menu is pretty tempting too.
I’d love to hear some other opinions, so if you’ve been to Coquinaria, please leave a message and let us know what you think!

Address: Isidora Goyenechea 3000, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile (downstairs in the new W Hotel Building, across from Plaza Perú)
Phone: 2-245-1958
Hours: Mon–Fri 7:30 AM–11:00 PM, Sat 9:30–11:00, Sun 9:30–9:30


Filed under Food, Restaurants

8 responses to “Coquinaria: The Jury’s Still Out

  1. Margaret

    I think I’m of the same opinion as you — I really want to like it, so I’m giving them a while to work out kinks. We went for brunch because we were so excited to find just one more place to go for brunch. They had mimosas on the menu but said they couldn’t serve them yet for some reason (maybe they didn’t have the liquor license yet?). The coffee and tea were both great, but the service was a little spotty. It wasn’t clear that any one person was our server. One of us got the breakfast sampler that involved several dishes, and we had to remind the server to bring one of the parts (a fruit parfait) when the meal was nearly finished. I ordered the eggs benedict, and I had high hopes since I hadn’t had the dish in Chile yet. It seems that others may not have either… instead of an english muffin, the eggs (well poached, I admit) were served on small round cut-outs of white toast. Bit of a letdown. But again, I’ll check it out again soon, and even if the restaurant doesn’t rise to the occasion, I’ll still go back for the fresh eggs, cheese, gelato, and Le Fournil breads.

    Thanks for sharing your review!

  2. Margaret

    Oh, and I also experienced the secret-meat thing — I’d ordered the eggs benedict with the ham on the side (I’m a vegetarian, but my boyfriend isn’t). Still, the dish came out with a generous sprinkling of bacon shreds (not on the menu).

  3. Wow! Another Margaret in Chile! My tocaya! First time in 18 years!
    I am soooo sorry to hear that your brunch experience wasn’t stellar… I was really hoping to have an outstanding experience! But I’ll wait a bit and try again.
    The no mimosa thing could have been due to the hour. Coquinaria is in Las Condes, which has strict rules about hours that alcohol can and cannot be sold. It may start at noon on Sunday. (Good thing to know if you’re going for brunch!)
    And about that “secret meat” (great term BTW!)- you’d think that by 2010 restaurants would get it that there are a lot of people out there who just don’t eat things that once moved of their own volition!

  4. We live in the neighborhood and have had the same experiences there… The food was actually quite good (best french fries I’ve had yet in Chile–and served with aioli too!), what we had, but the service was so bizarre. Once we went there late and it was fine, another time they turned us away. Trying to get the attention of anyone working there if you’re not in a table is a feat as well. We’ll try again but if the service doesn’t improve, we might as well just buy the ingredients and cook at home.

    • Uggh! Sorry to hear you had the same experience! I was hoping it was an isolated incident! I haven’t been back yet, but hope to soon. Probably for lunch next time… or brunch!

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  6. I have been there twice to eat. Both times for brunch, the flavors were fine but eggs benedict came out with cold poached eggs. My guests had croque madame which they all enjoyed, but still only lukewarm. They did not have orange juice for mimosas. They brought the wrong type of water, forgot a soda and served the water incorrectly to the person who ordered the soda. The service is poor here, the food is overpriced. We did not even get a croissant, muffin or basket of anything in our 58,000 peso order ($125 USD) however we did enjoy the desserts. $13 for a degustacion of postres seemed and looked like another overpriced item.

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