Last week my husband I celebrated five years of marriage together.
Apparently the British tradition after five years is to gift each other something made of wood. Only after 40 years together does it get interesting and I can expect a ruby (husband – take note).
But 35 years is a long time to wait and I didn’t fancy a piece of bark for my anniversary, so I took the initiative and booked us dinner out.
I’d asked around friends for somewhere glamorous, fun and completely child unfriendly and was recommended Restaurante 040.
In many ways I felt I’d gone back to East London for the night. The place is so hipster that there’s no sign as such, just a tiny notice. They even employ a hipster on the door to usher lost diners in. ‘You’re Nina, right? Welcome to 040’.
And so it began…
The restaurant is, rather fittingly like my husband. It’s fun, sexy and in many respects rather silly.
There is no a la carte menu. Instead, diners are presented with twelve courses of surprise after surprise.
And when I say surprise, I mean it. The food is completely bonkers.
Each course is not only presented with an ingredients list, but also a method of eating. One bite, two bites, three or four mouthfuls…
If you’re a meat and veg girl, this place is not for you. If you prefer good ol’ traditional peasant food, then most likely you’ll hate it.
In fact a couple of the dishes I really didn’t like. Some of the flavour combinations were just a little too out there for me. Some plates took so long to explain that they were cold by the time we got to eat them.
My husband gobbled down my leftovers with gusto, though (don’t tell the waitress, I went for two bites, not one).
But coming to 040 to complain about the fancy food is like going to Disney and grumbling that you don’t like cartoons.
It’s fun, it’s an experience. Yes, many of the serving dishes look like they’ve been rummaged randomly from a car boot sale. But lighten up, folks!
And to be fair a lot of the dishes were actually really, really good. The seafood with candyfloss was divine. Honest.
It’s certainly not the type of food mere mortals would prepare for a TV dinner.
The sheer bonkersness of it all makes it perfect for date night and celebrations. Not that I ever find it hard to find something to talk about, but 040 serves up course after course of conversation starters.
At one glance around the room I spotted one couple making out, a group of giggling girl friends, a birthday party crowd and a guy trying (and seemingly succeeding) to impress a first date.
The drinks help too perhaps. There’s the option of a Chilean wine flight or a European version. Mr Expater went for the Chilean set, which were ‘pretty damn good’ on the whole.
I’m six months pregnant and went for the non alcoholic cocktail mixes. Hoorah that they actually put some thought into the drinks, serving me all manner of Willy Wonker beverages instead of the rudimentary fruit juice with soda combo *yawns*.
040 has its tried and tested formula and the staff do a great job at making the whole experience feel very special indeed. While the menu does change on a fortnightly basis, I don’t think it’s the place you’d make a regular though. But I’d go back with 040 virgin friends to see their smiles, because I reckon most of its charm lies in its surprise element.
My only grumble would be the lighting. Guys – turn the LEDs down and the heating up. Bright lights and over zealous air con are not sexy!
My hubby did the chivalrous thing and leant me his jacket, but the lights were doing nothing for my pasty British complexion.
Thankfully the lights do go down when you head up to the restaurant’s speakeasy, Room 09 for after dinner drinks. The cynics among us might claim it’s a marketing ploy, using a shabby locale plastered with advertising to get gullible folk to spend more.
But I appreciated the opportunity to prolong our kid free night out. The cocktails were delicious, the music was happy (modern swing jazz and upbeat tunes) and the crowd was fun.
For our sixth wedding anniversary British tradition dictates that my husband and I should gift each other something containing sugar. Seafood stuffed candyfloss, for example. Perhaps we will be back to 040 after all…
Need to know
Dress code – we were by far the most dressed up among diners. There’s no need to go overboard with bling, unless you want to. You might get refused entry if you rock up in shorts, trainers or scruffy sandals though.
Special diets – this isn’t a place for vegans, coeliacs, diabetics or anyone with an allergy. The restaurant did serve me special dishes bearing in mind my pregnancy however, and also offered me vegetarian options in place of the meat.
Groups – the largest tables seat six, so parties any bigger in size are split into separate tables.
The damage – the twelve course tasting menu will set you back 37,000 CLP, with the Chilean wine pairing priced at 25,000 CLP and the European version at 35,000 CLP
Photos – after checking the website, apparently 040 prefers its guests not to take photos. Oops. But when we were there several guests were snapping away and serving staff gladly assisted us with a pic. Use your discretion though – we were seated in a secluded corner, but if you’re next to others perhaps give the clicking a rest.
Room 09 – the restaurant’s speakeasy bar is semi open and while it has patio heaters you might like to bring a jacket for the cooler months. It’s smoking too, and while I’m pregnant and didn’t feel it was a problem, anyone very sensitive to smoke might be put off during busy periods.
Restaurante 040, open Tuesday to Saturday from 7.30pm to midnight. Room 09 open from 8pm to 2am Tuesday to Thursday and from 8pm to 3am on Friday and Saturday. Calle Antonia López de Bello No. 040, Providencia, Santiago. Chile. Reservations via tel +56 2 27329214 /+56 2 27329920 or website 040.cl/e