An entirely new concept has arrived in Medellín, and it’s a treat for all of your senses. Bardesono is tucked away on Calle 8 in the heart of Poblado, and the subtle entrance gives no hint of what will greet you inside. But, once you step through the doorway and walk down the grand corridor, you’re greeted by the sight of a spectacular bar and dining room, and the beautiful sound of live singers that whisk you away from the noisy Medellín street you just left behind.
The Birth of the Project
Bardesono is a passion project of one of the owners, and that passion is evident in every single aspect of the venue. Rubén Tobón had the idea for the concept during a visit to Switzerland in 2013. Before an evening at the opera, Rubén went to a café to have a drink. As he sat at the bar, he heard a beautiful voice singing, which belonged to one of the waitresses. Rubén loved the combination of food, drink, and live singers so much that, upon returning to his home city of Medellín, he got to work recreating the concept of live music and dining for a Paisa audience.
Upon our visit we were warmly greeted and shown to our table: a small and cozy spot with velvet cushioned seats and a great view of the semi-open kitchen. The dining room is large and spacious, but the smart use of low light retains an intimacy that is often lost in larger venues. On the Thursday night that we visited, just one week after the grand opening, the elegant dining room was almost at capacity with a varied clientele.
Once seated, we were given the menu, which was an event in itself. The food has been thoughtfully curated by Argentinian-trained Colombian chef Alejandra Mejia, using local and international ingredients to create an innovative take on classic dishes. Each cocktail and plate is named after a song to tie in with the venue’s musical theme, which adds a bit of fun to choosing your meal.
I asked for a New York, New York cocktail to start with, which was 26,900 COP ($9.74) and was a beautiful blend of vodka, fresh red apple, juniper, ginger beer, lemon and peppermint. The flavor was fresh and light, with a gentle warmth from the spicy ginger beer and the generous slug of vodka. The drinks menu is impressive, and, in addition to the list of interesting cocktails, there is a gin and tonic list, a selection of sangrias, several beers, wines and juices, and the best list of spirits and liquors that I’ve seen in my four months in Medellín.
Onto the food, and my friend and I chose an entrada to share. We went for the Soy Antioqueño, which was 27,900 COP ($10.11). The dish consisted of perfectly grilled morcilla (blood sausage), thinly sliced and fried chips made from a South American root vegetable called arracacha, and a mayonnaise flavored with hondashi, which is made from smoked and dried Bonito fish and used widely in Japanese cuisine. The textures and the flavors worked perfectly together, and the portion size was just right for a shared appetizer.
Other sharing starters include perhaps the best plate of nachos that I have ever seen and a delicate octopus dish served with edible flowers and white vegetables. If you don’t want to split an entrada, there’s also a rich, roasted tomato soup and an arepa dish with cheese and bacon, which are both perfect for one.
For our main course, we went for Somos Pacífico and El Día Que Me Quieras. Somos Pacífico, which my friend ordered, was 41,900 COP ($15.18) and consisted of a beautifully cooked piece of salmon flavored with a citrus and smoked tandoori marinade. It was served with laban, cucumber jus and melon gazpacho. The plate was bursting with freshness, and the smoky spiced marinade complemented the delicate flavor of the fish perfectly.
My chosen dish was centered on beef, which is something that I rarely order in Medellín as it tends to be tough. But, my 200-gram portion of chateaubriand was melt-in-the-mouth perfection. It was cooked medium rare, as requested, and was incredibly tasty and tender. The star of the show was accompanied by mushrooms, potato puree, beans, and a brilliant combination of an acidic vinaigrette and a rich and deep sauce. At just 38,900 COP ($14.10), this is a spectacular dish for a great price. In addition to the dishes that we ordered, there are four other tempting entrees, including a meat-free rice and zucchini plate and a burger that looks so good that I need to have a second visit to try it.
Now for the entertainment. The in-house artistic director, Lalis Solórzano, curates the musical program, which includes traditional favorites, such as tango and salsa, as well as other party-oriented songs from genres like rock and pop.
Every year six students are selected from local universities to perform songs for diners. These talented singers perform throughout the evening in the dining room, and each Sunday other performers from the local community also put on a family-themed show during brunch service. Social programs are at the forefront of the venue, and at the end of each year one of the six student performers will be selected for a full scholarship to the USA or Europe to study singing, with all costs being covered by the owners of Bardesono.
The word that sums up Bardesono for me is passion: for the food and drink, the service, the performances, and the community which it serves. At once, you are transported to a place far away from Medellín. It’s easy to forget where you are: Bardesono kind of consumes every one of your senses in a way that other restaurants just aren’t capable of.
Hours and Location
Calle 8 #43a-57, El Poblado
Open 4pm – 12am Tuesday to Thursday, 5pm – 1am Friday and Saturday, and 9am – 3pm Sunday
All photos courtesy of Bardesono.
This post was written in collaboration with Bardesono.
Sophie is a freelance writer from the north of England. She has been traveling and working in South America since August 2017, and currently lives in Medellín. She runs the blog Table for One, where she writes about what it’s really like to travel as a solo woman.