Michelin-starred Catalán chef Ramon Freixa’s newest project FROM has landed in Bogota’s design-conscious BOG hotel, which is known for its stylistic touches, and reminiscent of some of Colombia’s riches: gold and emerald. The hotel and restaurant are located on a main thoroughfare in the leafy neighborhood of La Cabrera, between hopping Zona T and posh Parque de la 93, two cornerstones of Bogotá nightlife for locals and visitors. FROM takes over the space formerly held by La Leo by Leonor Espinosa, who appears to be concentrating on her top 50 restaurant Leo Cocina y Cava and also on her food-related foundation, Funleo.
In an uncluttered space with wood, water and glass featuring predominantly, including tiny pineapples on their stems in round vases, FROM received national and international food writers as part of its launch on October 23. The restaurant’s food is Colombian-Spanish, or as Freixa himself has said, “a Colombian product sifted through the memory of Spanish cooking,” where he refers to locally sourced products interpreted through his years of cooking experience in Spain.
Our starter was a semi-traditional Colombian “mangoviche” or a ceviche made of green mango, in this case, thinly sliced, marinated and dressed with coconut milk, and flecked with red and green pepper, served in a long narrow porcelain boat. This was followed by a shared plate of seasoned steak tartare served in the hollow of a veal bone, garnished with thin crisp slices of a variety of edible roots, including potato and beet.
The show-stealer was the next plate, tomatoes and creamy burrata, which arrived looking very much like a stylized watermelon plate, but which had several preparations of tomatoes from the Antioquia region, including a novel tomato and sea salt ice shaved over the plate, which added a the occasional icy crunch to a refreshing dish.
The last savory plate was a well-seasoned oxtail in a Merlot reduction, served beside a small fried eggplant half garnished with cubed eggplant, another variation on the dish being garnished with itself, as seen in the tomato salad course.
Desserts were varied, a carrot cake called on the menu, “probably the best carrot cake you’ll eat today” (and it was, served with a refreshing mandarin ice cream and little shards of crispy wafer on top), Freixa’s own “grandmother’s flan” which could be forgiven and even thanked for having a firmer, more crema Catalan-like texture, and a yogurt ice cream served over spiced berries and with chocolate crumb on top.
Why the name FROM, for a Colombian-Spanish restaurant? It’s not a recognizable Spanish word, so I asked the chef. It’s a play on words, Freixa tells me, the first two letters of his last name followed by the first two of his first name. “And of course,” he says, “because the ingredients are FROM Colombia.”