Food is an important part of any Patagonia excursion, as I recently wrote in describing the one such dining option in Buenos Aires. It’s worth noting that, before or after heading to Patagonia, Chile’s capital of Santiago has similar options, as I found in one recent lunch in the city’s increasingly fashionable Barrio Lastarria neighborhood.
In a pedestrian-friendly area, Patagonia Sur is a restaurant with attractive sidewalk seating but, on a smotheringly hot summer afternoon, I chose to sit indoors. The menu featured several lamb dishes – a legacy of the 19th and early 20th centuries when a great Wool Rush created great fortunes in southernmost Argentina and Chile – but also game dishes such as jabalí (wild boar) and venison. I settled for grilled lamb chunks in a mustard sauce over lentils and tomatoes, supplemented with a spread of pebre (a flavorful condiment of coriander, chopped onion, garlic, tomato and olive oil) for the bread.
I wasn’t yet in Patagonia, but the food evoked the region. My only disappointment was that the honey-sweetened house pisco sour wasn’t quite to my taste – I prefer a drier version – but as the honey sank to the bottom of the glass it became more palatable.
Unfortunately, a sudden and powerful bronchitis attack delayed my own departure for Patagonia, but the lamb bought me some time. On finally reaching the northerly Patagonian resort of Pucón –part of Chile’s “lakes district” – I indulged in a dinner of wild boar and grilled potatoes embellished with merkén (an indigenous Mapuche spice) that’s left me eager for more.