Peru’s extraordinarily diverse and innovative cuisine is pleasing palates across the globe and has put the Andean country on the map. Earlier this month, the Telegraph published a piece on five of Lima’s best restaurants and Forbes branded the Peruvian food boom as one of the “Top Food Trends for 2012”. Get your fork… or maybe two!
According to the Telegraph, Lima’s dining scene is drawing more gourmands that ever. Sharp decors, great service and creative chefs that make use of little-known ingredients are just some of the reasons why. Here are the five restaurants the UK daily morning broadsheet picked out and, of course, we strongly recommend you try when you go on your trip to Peru:
Astrid & Gastón (Miraflores district)
Astrid & Gastón, featured in this year’s S Pellegrino & Aqua Panna’s “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” ranking, is Latin America’s highest rated establishment (dining here is on most people’s travel to Peru to-do list). Owned by Peruvian chef and extraordinaire Gastón Acurio, who studied at the Cordon Bleu, the restaurant is housed in a colonial townhouse, has an elegant dining room, open kitchen and bar. Spectacular French and Asian-influenced specialty dishes such as seafood, ceviches (raw fish marinated in lime juice and ají, a Peruvian hot pepper), lamb, confit of paiche (a large fish native to Peru’s jungle), and duck are prepared with a myriad of native and locally-sourced ingredients. The Telegraph’s foodie, Andrew Purvis highly recommends the “Ceviche of Love”, which is comprised of raw sea urchin, squid, mussel, clam and shrimp served in an oyster shell. In addition to a first-rate international wine list, a twelve-course tasting option and an irresistible dessert menu designed by master pastry Chef Astrid Gutsche are offered.
Malabar (San Isidro district)
Malabar, ran by Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, whom cut his teeth at a succession of Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe, is truly unique and it is always ranked among the top five in Summum, or Peru’s equivalent of the Michelin guide. Its creative seasonal menu, which is updated four times annually, features skillfully prepared haute cuisine Amazonian and Andean delicacies such as heart of palm soufflés, river snails, yucca purées, scallops with orange butter, seared filets of cuy, or guinea pig, and tuna tartar. The Telegraph’s food expert Andrew Purvis recommends the sole tiradito (a more sophisticated twist on ceviche) served with tobiko (flying-fish roe), the freshwater shrimp with yuyo (a type of marine algae) and the Carpaccio of pig’s trotter with Mediterranean flavors.
The establishment’s well-stocked bar, which seats approximately 30 people, is considered to be one of the “Top Ten Bars in the World” by Food & Wine magazine. Pisco-based cocktails, such as the pisco punch (with pineapple), are sure bets.
Perroquet (San Isidro district)
Elegant, colonial-style Perroquet is located in Lima’s Country Club, one of the city’s finest hotels. Purvis recommends this intimate restaurant, awarded “Best Hotel Restaurant” in 2007, 2008 and 2009, as a great introduction to authentic Peruvian cuisine. He recommends the sea bass ceviche and causa (yellow potato mash) as well as the lomo saltado (stir-fried beef) and fillet of chita (a white fish). Perroquet also serves creative international specialties, and features private rooms that can be reserved for intimate dining. On Fridays and Saturdays, also in the Country Club, live music fills the Los Vitrales traditional English bar, where guests can enjoy Pisco sour, Peru’s flagship cocktail prepared with pisco, egg whites, lime juice and regional bitters.
Mesa 18 (Miraflores district)
Mesa 18, an impeccably styled restaurant located at the Miraflores Park Hotel and ran by Chef Toshiro Konishi, serves Peruvian-Japanese fusion food. Celebrated and artfully presented dishes include anticuchos (grilled beef heart skewers), shrimp chowder, lamb stew and the delicious Pisco Italia-scented three milks cake. The Telegraph’s Purvis strongly vouches for the gyoza (pork and shrimp dumplings), ceviche maki and grouper in a light, sweet soy marinade topped with ginger julienne.
Rafael (Miraflores district)
Housed in a 1920s manor in Lima’s posh Miraflores district, this sophisticated, warm and intimate 15-table restaurant, which offers a delicate fusion of Peruvian, Asian and Mediterranean traditions, is famous for its fish: Lima’s freshest. Dishes, exquisitely prepared by chef-owner Rafael Osterling Letts, include sole ceviche, yellow fin tuna and scallop tartar with avocado cream, calamari and confit potatoes, baby grilled octopus, grilled lobster in coral butter, and slowly braised lamb shanks with honey and spices. Desserts and sweets are impossible to resist, especially the burnt lemon Tahiti tarts, anything with lucuma(eggfruit), and the “trembling chocolate sponge” with cacao emulsion, roast raspberries and milk-honey ice-cream.
Forbes refers to Peruvian food as the new “it” cuisine. And Bon Appétit considers Lima to have the “Freshest Fish of the Day”. So when you take your trip to Peru, dig in. And don’t forget to go back for seconds.