Reyes Lavalle 3310
Santiago, Chile




Dell Taylor, a New Zealander whose "flat white" (cappuccino) at her wildly successful Café Melba has quite a following, here has opened another restaurant, this one featuring "small plates" or a tapas-style experience.

The concept is quite like sharing several appetizers rather than each person getting their own meal. The food is fusion, with Middle Eastern, Indian, Korean and Kiwi flavors featuring strongly represented. There is squid in tomato sauce, beef kebabs and various other tasty savory dishes that get strong marks.

But the runaway finish to the meals there are the desserts, including "La Bomba," (which is called a volcano in most of the rest of Chile), a molten-centered cake made with dark chocolate. The restaurant's location on Reyes Lavalle, is a short walk from the redline metro, which makes it easy to access from any part of the city.

Capitalizing on the packed-to-the-rafters success of Café Melba, owner Dell Taylor, a transplant from New Zealand, decided to take things up a notch by launching a stylish eatery with a philosophy that's unique in Santiago -- small plates. The broad menu highlights the flavors of the Mediterranean and the Pacific Rim with a couple of Middle Eastern, Indian, and New Zealand creations thrown in. Couples may opt to share five or six "tapas" dishes to the tune of Korean beef kebabs or pan-fried squid with a rich herb tomato sauce served with hunks of ciabatta for dunking. The entree menu is equally globetrotting, with a beer-battered sea bass served with thick cut chips and imaginatively dressed thin-crust pizzas. Some dishes, however, are less successful; the curried rabbit is surprisingly bland. The highlight of the dessert menu is the chocolate Bomba, a decadent warm-center chocolate pudding served with ice cream. Akarana is an excellent place to enjoy well-prepared afternoon cocktails, when a DJ spins mellow music; occasionally the restaurant hosts live music on the patio. Be sure to reserve ahead to ensure a table outside; Akarana's contemporary, all-white interiors are chic and airy but lack the patio's atmosphere.

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