The good hand of its chef and the exceptional quality of its ingredients are essential to manage perfect dishes.
In Villarrica, Mesa del Mar has become a classic of gastronomy. Its ample seating area featuring a marine theme and its owner’s long experience have managed a family atmosphere deprived of luxury. Its secret resides in products prepared on request with natural ingredients as well as the freshest fish and seafood. As we had been recommended this restaurant by some friends, we were quite eager to enjoy a special lunch. We made ourselves comfortable and had a look at the long list of possibilities in the menu. We finally made our decision with the help of the waiter. We chose simple dishes, with barely any spices, so as to taste the authentic flavor of each ingredient. Our choice for main course was grilled salmon sprayed with olive oil accompanied by black olives and golden potatoes. My partner ordered a seafood casserole which included picorocos, conger, choritos, navajuelas, clam, shrimp and locos with soft seasoning that permeated the various textures. While we waited for our order to come, we enjoyed some shrimp and a classic glass of pisco sour, a traditional Chilean drink suitable for any moment of the day.
We had the chance to talk to Adolfo Aravena, owner and chef at Mesa del Mar. He told us his story. He was born into a family of cooks and he took several courses. However, he asserts: “I learned most from many years of practice and dedication, immersed in pots and pans”. Before opening this restaurant with his wife Jenny, he worked for famous venues in Argentina and had a business in Pucón. He has a style of his own in which local products prevail. Just like his mom, he highlights the original flavor of each ingredient and adds garlic, olive oil, the algae known as cochayuyo, the spice called merken or some simple sauce. He tries to avoid cream and bechamel. Fresh products come straight from Valparaíso, Mehuin and Puerto Montt and the choice of ingredients is based on availability according to season. We tasted our dish without haste and accompanied it with a premium Chilean wine. Afterwards, we had a fresh dessert that combined the texture of papaya and ice-cream, flambéed with curazao. In the meantime, more and more customers –both locals and tourists- entered the venue. After a digestive drink, we bade farewell to that space with large windows overlooking the street and a very delicate marine decoration in white and blue, with nets serving as curtains. We felt completely satisfied and promised to do the same thing our friends had done: recommend Mesa del Mar to somebody else.