Chef Rafael Osterling presents an epitomized vision of Peruvian cuisine. Born in Lima, this respected chef currently runs a successful restaurant also called Rafael in his native city and praised cevicheria, El Mercado. In keeping with the authentic nature of Peruvian food, which has absorbed influences from around the world during the last 500 years, the confluence of European, Asian and Andean flavors delight diners at his eponymous restaurant located in Bogotá’s Zona G.
The soothing beige walls and chocolate wood wine racks create distinctive moods in a space that is coyly divided into a bar/lounge, main dining room and outdoor terrace. We fuel our enthusiasm by going Peruvian with Rafael’s chilled classic cocktail: a pisco sour. It was an intoxicating start to an evening in which we perused an extensive menu, available to patrons in English and Spanish.
For starters, fish dominates and we sample the grilled octopus with chimichurri sauce. This tender octopus is served alongside a braised sweet pepper sauce that offsets the saltiness of the dish. We polish off a ceviche of white fish and some thinly sliced fillets, the tiraditos Nikkei.
Innovation is part of the philosophy behind Rafael and the chef likes to have the highest quality ingredients available for guests. Charming us with subtle flavors of chopped cilantro, lime juice and red chili oils, Osterling also presents main courses such as his famous duck as well as beef dished. The portions of the main courses are fair considering their prices range from $35,000 to $55,000 per plate.
The Mussaman duck, flanked by roasted peanuts, glistened on my plate. Rafael personalizes his Mussaman paste with flavors of cardamon, coriander, tamarind, cinnamon, and hints of nutmeg. The roasted duck, with its crispy salty skin, yielded a sweet delicate meat that easily pulls off the bone. The Argentinean rib eye is succulent. The port wine reduction is sweet and thick, bathing the plate like a caramel. The potatoes melt to an almost butter-like consistency, yet are crisp along the edges.
The grouper with sesame seeds rendered a flaky, almost steamed quality to the fish as it floated on mirin broth. Partnered with zucchini and carrots which were cooked al dente, this is a must have at the best Peruvian restaurant in the city.
The service at this fashionable restaurant was faithful to Colombian and Peruvian hospitality. The friendly and attentive staff catered to the demands of a full house, in which reservations are a must. It is worth visiting the bar area with its warm and modern décor while savoring some of the reasonably priced smaller versions of Rafael’s popular dishes. The ambient music, etched frosted glass windows and demure lighting create a perfect backdrop for Rafael’s wide ranging and contemporary Peruvian cuisine.
Calle 70 No. 4-65
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