99 is a beautiful example of quality no-nonsense dining in Santiago. The rustic ‘bistronomy’ cuisine stands out in a city that starts to offer more and more different concepts of gastronomy. The restaurant is situated in the bustling area Providencia where you can find many high-rise apartment buildings as well as a significant portion of Santiago’s commerce. With attractive lunch options, 99 Restaurante is well reputed in this business district.
The restaurant has a simple interior with rough stained tables, wooden chairs and recycled furniture. The artwork and the colourful light elements bring a more cosy touch. The little restaurant doubles its capacity with the charming terrace outside. The open kitchen is not the most attractive, but brings atmosphere and movement in the restaurant with live cooking by the five chefs.
Chef Patron Kurt Schmidt, formerly working at Taller De Raiz, is now the inspirator of this creative gastro-bistro. The young self-made Chef travelled around the world in order to gather culinary ideas from various concepts. He worked with Rodolfo Guzmán at Boragó Santiago, with Eneko Atxa at Azurmendi in Spain, with Ángel León at Aponiente in Spain, and also joined the Noma team from René Redzepi in Copenhagen.
His meals are light and intense, pure and accessible, well-conceived and simple. Impulsive cooking leads the Chef to rich aromas, remarkable flavours and textures. Kurt strives to achieve a perfect balance between the main ingredient and the diversity in the components on the plate. The guests will enjoy the creative and surprising dishes made with local ingredients. The Chef himself often goes to the Mercado Central to select fresh ingredients and his focus on the essence of the product is the strength of his cuisine. A few examples are ‘Smoked deer tartar with oxalis leave’, ‘Different textures of mushrooms with powder of dark pine mushroom’, ‘Confit of lamb tongue with cauliflower purée, plums and caramel’, or ‘Duck with pickled onions and pear’. Also in the desserts, restaurant 99 impresses with dishes that only have a few ingredients, but are very flavourful. The carrot sorbet with coconut foam and caramelised peanuts is a good example. Dinner offers a reasonably priced tasting menu in six or nine courses. Friday lunch is already legendary, with theme lunches that offer variations on street food.
Kurt Schmidt has a great team that assists him in bringing character, experience and passion into the dishes. The passionate Argentinian Sommelier Ramiro Mozes assists with the wine choices or offers an organic wine pairing with the menu. He focuses on natural and biodynamic wines from local and small producers like Garage Wine, Tellus and Kundalini. Kurt’s Pastry Chef, Gustavo Sáez, is one of the most talented of Chile and displays unique and tasteful creations based on only a few strong ingredients.
Restaurant 99 is a perfect gastronomic ‘no-nonsense’ intermezzo when you visit Santiago, focusing on simplicity and creativity. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner from Monday till Friday. The dishes are very well balanced and full of deep flavours. Do not expect high-end dining at 99, but go here for a pleasant evening focussed on an accessible and fun dining experience.
Written by Sven & Frank