After a chaotic commute into downtown Santiago, many crave a few moments of calm and some caffeine to reenergize themselves for the day ahead. Unfortunately, such large hoards generally overwhelm the coffee shops in the area. The numerous local cafés consequently feel as frenzied as the nearby streets and provide little sanctuary from the commotion.
Photo by Kendal Montgomery
The Blue Jar, a charming restaurant located only a block from La Moneda, proves unlike most of its counterparts in the morning hours. Once inside, patrons can enjoy both a calm ambiance and delectable treats that enable customers to escape from the pandemonium outside. Even the rather disturbing artwork does not disrupt the peaceful environment; the painting of a decapitated chicken seems creative as opposed to violent. Similarly, other eclectic images dotting the walls capture guests’ attention and allow them to temporarily escape from the pandemonium and stresses found outside the restaurant’s walls.
Given the enticing aroma of coffee and baked goods found throughout the shop, few waste any time before eagerly perusing the bakery menu available from 8:30am -12:30pm. The options seem endless but not everything is necessarily available.
While annoying, the inconvenience ultimately can prove worthwhile if the customer wisely elects to order churros and hot chocolate instead. The appetizing, albeit slightly overpriced (CP$3,500 or US$6.50 for both the pastry and hot chocolate), dish consists of four pastries sprinkled with powdered sugar along with both manjar and chocolate sauces.
Although the churros prove delightful, the hot chocolate easily outshines them. The steaming cup has a slightly bittersweet flavor that contrasts perfectly with the sugary churros; it could, however, also make an excellent snack unaccompanied (CP$2,000 or US$3.70) as the thick liquid could temporarily soothe a ravenous stomach.
As hot chocolate seems hard to find in Santiago, this dish definitely merits a return visit to The Blue Jar. However, it will be difficult to resist substituting it with some of the aromatic coffee (CP$1,200-CP$1,400 or US$2.20-US$2.60) sold in the café when needing to reenergize for the rest of the day. While it is only available in one size, patrons can choose between several coffee beverages including a Café Illy.
Or, alternatively, harried commuters could venture to The Blue Jar a bit later in the day and sample their much expanded lunch and after hours menu.
It includes a variety of dishes including soups of the day (CP$3,500-US$6.50) and entrees such as risotto or lasagna (CP$7,900 or US$14.60 and CP$7,300 or US$13.50 respectively). While it too seems a bit pricy, past experience at the café suggests that it may be a worthwhile splurge.
Unfortunately, The Blue Jar seems to lose much of its soothing ambiance later in the day with local businessmen overrunning the small shop. Miraculously, it retains a tranquil environment, but the suits and lap tops make it difficult to forget one’s everyday stresses. Crazed commuters consequently will be best served if they indulge in this sanctuary before embarking on a challenging day of work.