Amid the many meat-feast eateries that engulf Santiago, there are those restaurants that abstain from the carniverous. One such place is Quinoa in Vitacura, located in front of the Alliance Francaise (French International School) on Luis Pasteur, which invites you into a welcoming and cosy interior. Complementing the restaurant is a shoe store, selling Camper and Birkenstock along with jewellery and accessories, good to visit when it's crowded and the waiters find you a table. The white interior creates a sense of aerial space, fresh flowers adorn tables, and there is a patio vegetable garden out back, where herbs grow to be used in preparations. Friendly service greets those entering the pleasant atmosphere of this vegetarian/vegan Restaurant.
Pumpkin, carrot and ginger soup
Sol and Diego Fliman opened Quinoa around December 2010 as an independent venture, yet this wasn’t unknown territory for them. They had inherited a family legacy, as their parents are the owners of El Huerto in Orrego Luco in Providencia, a landmark for health-conscious diners, which stands out due to its excellent vegetarian food, elegant presentation and good service. Quinoa isn’t a replica of the traditional, but a renewal and evolution in terms of tastes and dishes.
Sol, chef and blogger (http://www.cocinademercado.blogspot.com/), invents and renovates dishes of Mediterranean, Middle and Far Eastern influence, by mixing up spices, nuts, fruits and vegetables to create novel and delicious combinations. It's tempting to try everything, always a good reason to come back, and with such a grand variety of flavors, textures and colors this is a delightful experience.
Quinoa's Vegetable garden and terrace
If you feel like a cool meal, start up the experience by ordering a Pineapple ginger with Stevia juice or better yet a strawberry lemonade. Juices are freshly made, and this one creates the right blend of fruity, spicy, sweet and sour.
Continue by having a Mushroom Ceviche, made with crispy quinoa, avocados, mangoes and peppers. Quinoa, a grain-like crop which is primarily grown for its seeds, is a substancial source of protein, fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron, and features in almost every dish. Its name comes from Quechua Kin-Wah, and it grows in Andean regions. The ceviche will refresh your palate and open up your appetite.
Follow that up with the Colores Salad, a delectable blend of red and white quinoa, dried cranberries, pistachios, almonds, spinach, orange and goat cheese over a mix of greens. The crunchy and tasty aesthetic is very carefully designed and crafted, providing a unique amalgamation of tastes and textures. Top it off with a special dressing: lemon, ginger and honey, or if you prefer something smooth, mixed herbs and yoghurt is your best bet.
Ready for dessert? If it’s your first time, you cannot leave without trying the chocolate coulant. It might take fifteen minutes to bake, but it's totally worth the wait! It comes with a scoop of ice cream, and is best suited to coconut, manjar chips or the classic vanilla. This volcano of a cake erupts chocolate magma and is the ultimate indulgence.
This is my personal suggestion although obviously you are free to pick from a variety of dishes. Other recommendations include the Eggplant Lasagna, a very Italian dough-less piece with zucchinis, tomatoes and mozzarella; the Spiced Lentils, an Indian-influenced dish with Garam Masala; or the Mezze, of Middle Eastern-Greek origin and made up of sauces, falafels and olives.
There is no lagging behind with Pastries either. They have kuchens or, particularly good if you are still hungry, takeaway carrot or fig muffins. Miniature lemon pies and dried fruit tarts are adorable in presentation and fabulous to taste!
Did I mention it’s pretty affordable? Prices range from $3500 to 5800.
Worth coming all the way to Vitacura just to try it.
Address: Luis Pasteur 5393, Vitacura.
No metro around but buses 405 (Maipu- Alameda-Providencia) and 502 (Cerro Navia - Mapocho - Bellavista) can get you there. Week days and weekends are full at lunch so you might want to reserve a spot.
Staff speak English and some French. Menus are in these languages as well.
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8:00 am - 7:00 pm & Sat: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm.
More information on: http://www.quinoarestaurante.cl/