An Urban Oasis: The Aubrey Hotel Restaurant & Piano Bar

With an insane week and no end to the madness in sight, I jumped at the chance to check out the newly-opened Piano Bar and Restaurant at The Aubrey Hotel.

The Aubrey (photo courtesy of Aubrey Hotel)
The Aubrey (photo courtesy of Aubrey Hotel)

The last time I had drinks at the Aubrey, we walked through the fairly empty restaurant space, recently vacated by Valparaiso's trendy Pasta y Vino restaurant. Apparently an initial three-week waiting list did not translate to long term success and now the hotel itself was ready to take over operations.

The Aubrey is located in Bella Vista close to the intersection of Constitucion and Pio Nono. The spot where trendy clothing shops, hip bars and restaurants meet the main drag of cheap sidewalk beer dives. After walking down Pio Nono, lined with tables of futbolistas clustering around their liters of half-drunk Escudos, I entered the hotel’s elegant gates. Nestled into a hidden bottom corner of Cerro San Cristobal, I felt a dramatic change in scenery. It oozed of elegance.

"Glasses sparkling..." (photo by: ©Cat Allen/EyeSpyCat)
"Glasses sparkling..." (photo by: ©Cat Allen/EyeSpyCat)

A cobble-stoned walkway leads up a small stone flight of stairs to a wall of grotto-like watery arches complete with fern foliage that lends the constant calming sound of trickling water. Above it the heated lap pool smacks against the side of San Cristobal - a wall of lush green.

Stepping into the Aubrey Hotel feels like stepping into a personal urban oasis, which is the atmosphere that Australian Mark Cigana and Englishman Will Martin, owners, spent 3 years and $3 million dollars trying to create. Built in 1927 as the former private residence of Domingo Durán Morales, a political kingpin of Chilean politics, this Spanish Mission-style home had been abandoned by the family until Cigana and Martin began refurbishing it as a boutique hotel. Its quirky antiques, lush furnishings and clean lines result in old school sophistication with modern conveniences.

But I was here for the food.

Inside the restaurant, the walls swim with delicately-painted Japanese Koi while candlelight sparkles off wine glasses. Menus arrive with reading lights to augment the restaurant's ambient mood lighting.

The first thing brought to the impeccably-set table was a pisco sour and a tantalizing salmon ceviche accompanied by savory bread and an exquisite garlic dipping sauce. I am still trying to recreate the sauce at home.

The Piano Bar (photo by: ©Cat Allen/EyeSpyCat)
The Piano Bar (photo by: ©Cat Allen/EyeSpyCat)

A plate of grilled calmari was deliciously tender, not your regular-hard-to-chew octopus, served with seasoned mashed potatoes.

The Braised Wagyu Beef al Carmenere was melt-in-your-mouth and served with sweet-pea-bacon puree. I will crave this dish on my death bed.

Next up, homemade salmon, cheese and walnut ravioli. However, I was more excited by its accompaniment: fresh and flavorful cherry tomatoes with calamari ink. These were not cardboard-tasting, hothouse facsimile tomatoes.

If you like your tuna well-cooked, the albacore tuna dish, with assorted sauted mushrooms and ulluca, a funky Andrean potato-like root vegetable, would be a good choice.

Braised Wagyu Beef al carmenere (photo courtesy of Aubrey Hotel)
Braised Wagyu Beef al carmenere (photo courtesy of Aubrey Hotel)

I sampled two desserts. First, a chocolate cake with terremoto-flavored ice cream. The terremoto is a Chilean drink made of white wine and pineapple ice cream. The cake was just ok.

The second choice was a wonderful Crème Catalan served with an off-the-charts-delicious, best strawberry ice cream I’ve ever eaten. The homemade ice cream at the Aubrey varies from traditional rich chocolate to an unusual toasted wheat ice cream, a traditional Chilean flavor.

Overall, eating at The Aubrey is a 'dining experience' of fine food and great service which is at a premium in Santiago, a city not exactly famous for customer service.

After dinner we walked through the newly-opened piano bar. Situated opposite the restaurant patio, sometimes the piano is there, and sometimes not. This space is used primarily for private events such as: DJ Spin Session, wedding parties and after-office events.

The kitchens of the The Aubrey Hotel Restaurant and Piano Bar are open Mondays through Thursdays at Noon and serve until 10:30pm. On Fridays and Saturdays it stays open an extra hour but guests can continue to enjoy the atmosphere and sip their wine until 2am.

299-317 Constitucion, Bellavista, Providencia, Santiago, Chile
Telephone: 56-2-940-28-00

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