Leonor Espinosa (pictured) and Jhon Fredy Ocampo
Eduardo Solano Ascencio
Modern Colombian with a twist
Crab, veal sauce, Sierra Nevada’s vanilla
Pasaje Santa Cruz de Mompox, Calle 27b, No 6-75, Bogotá
+57 1 286 7091
What’s the concept? Celebrity chef Leonor Espinosa’s flagship restaurant showcases little-known Colombian ingredients such as corozo fruit (a tangy red berry), arrechón (an aphrodisiac drink) and bijao (a banana-like plant), while championing local communities and gastronomic traditions. Since opening Leo she has had a great influence on Colombian cuisine and this year Espinosa wins the title of Latin America’s Best Female Chef.
A few words on the chef: An economist and artist by training, Leo’s love of anthropology, contemporary art and culture is evident in both her cooking and the restaurant itself: a bright, cosy room adorned with bold paintings. Espinosa and executive chef Michel Guzmán share the cooking here and at nearby Misia, a more casual venture inspired by popular Colombian cuisine.
What’s the deal with those big-bottomed ants? The chef crushes the shells of ants from the Santander region to make a crunchy, nutty coating. Then the ants’ bottoms (like tiny snail shells) are placed as garnish on the side of the dish.
How the menus work: Leo has both a seasonal and a classic tasting menu, each around 13 courses, or diners can opt for à la carte. The most recent concept, called Ciclo-Bioma, focuses on Colombian ecosystems, exploring the ways new species can be used in the kitchen. Those not wanting to sample the extensive wine menu can go for the non-alcoholic drinks pairing, which includes refreshing options like corozo berry juice or a corn drink.
Images: Renata Boliva