Boulevard Lavaud is more than a restaurant. It is Santiago history. Handsome and simple like an Edward Hopper painting, the antique yellow and brick building is literally crammed with memories of the past.
Photo by Jason C. Hickerson
When owner Cristian Lavaud’s grandfather came to Santiago in the late 1800’s, it was a different city.
The now charmingly decrepit Barrio Brasil was then a mecca for rich Santiaguinos, and among these elite, whose names now adorn streets and metro stations, French culture was de rigueur.
French coiffures and curls were as important for those looking to flaunt their trendiness as a taste for caviar and Parisian clothes. Thus, the original 1868 incarnation of Boulevard Lavaud as an authentic French hair salon run by three master stylists, was one of the hippest places in the neighborhood.
Today, Boulevard Lavaud, better known as La Peluqueria Francesa (The French Salon), is part restaurant, part antique store, and, fittingly, part hair salon – though the latter is far enough from the kitchen that one needn’t worry about hairs in the food.
The business has survived many years but today Lavaud puts the same dedication and passion that the original owners put into sculpting the hair of their elite clientele into creating a completely unique dining experience.
In the reception area, customers can recline in vintage bonnet hair dryers and gaze up at the two-story vaulted ceiling. Every wall, cupboard, and shelf is laden with antiques. Hundred year-old skis, plates, buttons, snuff-boxes and tea-cups fill the polished crannies above the tables, which themselves have been fashioned from the windows and wood of the building itself.
Adding to the ambiance, the tables in La Peluqueria are dispersed among the many different rooms in the two-story building, making them more intimate and more mysterious - like the well-preserved house of a wealthy grandmother.
The food, while decidedly French, is imbued with a Chilean soul.
Salmón a la mantequilla negra con alcaparras (salmon with black butter and capers) (CP$6,500) is a delightful choice. The tanginess of the capers mixes beautifully with the rich flavor of salmon and brown butter.
The tabla de fiambres y quesos (nut and cheese plate) (CP$10,000), while being rather expensive for La Peluqueria is worth it purely for the incredibly tasty chorizo español (Spanish Sausage). The smoky sausage is wonderfully matched with local cheeses, olives and delicate quail eggs.
Crepes and French restaurants are long time comrades and La Peluqueria continues this friendship, adding creative Chilean twists like jaiba a la parmesana (crab parmesean) and pollo y choclo al eneldo (chicken and corn with dill). Not to be missed are the espárragos, alcachofas, jamón y queso (asparagus, capers, ham, and cheese) crepe whose classic flavor matches perfectly with a glass of red wine.
The French and Chilean inspired cuisine can range from good to excellent, perhaps depending on the cook, but this subtle fluctuation shouldn’t deter, as the real reason to go is the ambiance.
La Peluqueria boasts an impressive wine list, almost all of which is reserva, and the drinks are some of the best in Santiago. Specifically don’t miss the Mojitos (CP$3,800) and the Peruvian Pisco Sours (CP$2,500).
With the quality of the drinks and the feeling of ancient glamour which emanates from every surface one would expect the prices to be high, yet Lavaud has kept them low, and during “happy sour,” pisco sours, chocolate sours and many others can be had for just CP$1,400, making a good buzz just a few lucas (luca=CP$1,000) away.
Boulevard Lavaud is perfect for a date (there’s a table which can be charmingly curtained off), or a group gathering. Either way, it is one of the most memorable restaurants in Santiago and to miss it would be missing out on a piece of Santiago history.
Compañia de Jesus 2789
On the corner of Libertad
Open Monday to Thursday 9 am to 1 am
Friday and Saturday 9am to 3 am
Metro Station: Cumming