Leo was perhaps the restaurant that I was most excited for in Bogotá. Seated at #14 on San Pellegrino’s Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants and #46 on the 50 World’s Best Restaurants, I came in with high expectations. The restaurant offers two rooms with two very different feels: Laura’s room and Leo’s room. Leo’s room is their main dining room, while Laura’s room is where their sommelier presents her selection of fermented drinks, macerations and distilled from botanical ingredients typical of local cultures.
Helmed by Chef Leonor Espinosa, Leo offers 2 menus: an 8-course tasting and a 13-course tasting. Both menus showcase little-known Colombian ingredients such as arrechón, an aphrodisiac drink, and mojojoy, larvae that lives inside Amazonian palm trees. Chef Leonor’s menu focuses on Colombia’s ecosystems, using new and unique ingredients to celebrate the country’s biodiversity.
We opted for the 13-course tasting menu with the non-alcoholic drink pairing. The 13-course tasting features appetizers in 3 courses, 9 savory and sweet courses, and finishes with the cocoa & coffee territory, which offers a flight of 3 chocolates and coffees. The non-alcoholic drink pairing features fermented drinks made from botanical ingredients typical of local cultures. We were presented with drinks that aimed to give us a taste of pacific seawater, Andean foothills, and wet Amazonian jungles.
To say that we enjoyed our meal is an understatement. We loved our meal. With each and every course, you can just feel the intention behind each dish – the purposeful inclusion of local ingredients, while respecting their original, native use. It really felt like a celebration of all the beautiful and unique ingredients that are available in the country. Our waiters were spectacular and you can really feel the care and passion they have for the food that they’re serving. To be quite honest, I’ve only ever experience service like this at Per Se, which is a 3 Michelin-starred restaurant, and I would argue it was even better at Leo.
During our 2.5 hour dinner, we were served a selection of dishes – pirarucú, an Amazonian fish, local duck, Sabanero pork, macambo with big-headed ants, just to name a few. Everything was absolutely delicious with flavors we had never tasted before. I’ve highlighted a few of the courses below – only a few of the many amazing dishes that we were served.