You should definitely not eat everthing they serve at Restaurant Central in Lima. Be careful. Otherwise you´ll chew on a stone or peruvian soil. The food on top of the decoration however is to die for. Something you should expect in Latin America´s best restaurant…
50 Best Restaurants
It happened again. In April 2017 Restaurant Central in Lima was chosen by the so called San Pellegrino List or list of the world´s 50 Best Restaurants to have the best kitchen in whole Latin America. Congratulations.
As you can imagine, it´s quite time consuming to test every eatery on the planet (although I try my best…), therefore it is really hard to say whether the Central is as outstanding as they say. “They”, in case of the 50 Best Restaurants, would be 1,000 chefs, gastro-critics and “well travelled gourmets”, who select the best places in their region. This should at least guarantee not too lousy food… Well, after having tested the place in Lima´s barrio Miraflores I can say: it was a culinary highlight worth every penny (or Sol if you so want).
You might have noticed that there is some sort of hype about peruvian food nowadays. Therefore Lima has become overly attractive for gourmets from all over the world. The supposedly best kitchen in this city hence is very popular and getting a table not really easy. Especially as the Central is regularly among the 50 best restaurants.
I figured this out only one week prior to a business trip to Peru and tried to book a table. Hopeless. Made it on the waiting list only. Even the concierge at my hotel could just help with a smile. The place is always fully booked for at least a month in advance and the phone will not be attended, I was told. The latter is correct. I tried… The only hint I was given: just go there for lunch and try to get a table at the bar. Although they do not serve one of their two “mater” menus with 11 respectively 17 (!) courses, there is a bar menu “ecosistemas barra” available with just 8 courses.
Light lunch. This is something I can live with. For those who need more, there is an additional bar menue you can choose from. But don´t be afraid. You will definitely not leave this place hungry but full of new impressions and if you had some of the great Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile and Pisco Sour like us, in a fantastic mood.
Now, what´s so special at this place, which is run by chef Virgilio Martinez ?
It is not only his accuracy and devotion. It is also the way he tackles peruvian cuisine. The curiosness and dedication to discover new food is a specialty of this scholar of Gastón Arcurio, another superchef of Peru. Virgilio Martinez composes his menus according to peruvian ecosystems from below sealevel to the highest mountains of the Andes. Each dish contains only ingredients of this very ecosystem. You would like a couple of examples ? Here you are:
We start with Tallos Engrosados from 3,500m above sealevel (sorry no idea how high that is in stones, inches or any other funny measure, so if you follow this blog, please make yourself familiar with the metric system). So what´s that ? Ollucos, chincho, cebolla and yuyo de pampa. Got it ?
If you did not grow up with herb-witches from the Andes, you will not have the slightest chance of understanding even half of the dishes. To me it was even unclear where the plate started or the food ended. Fortunately the waiters – or barkeeper in our case – is aware of this deficiency of many guests and explains patiently each and every piece of the meal. Despite these efforts there is no translation to everything, but you will be able to guess what it is. Seafood or vegetables, dead or alive or something in between. In case of Tallos Engrosados, which look like little bales of hay, we were lucky not to bite into the stones they were served on.
The Escama de Rio, a not so special fish from a river (we are down to 680m), is served on pachamama, mother earth, together with seeds looking like fried grubs making their way up. Fortunately decoration only…
What follows is a roller coaster ride through the valleys and mountains of this rich country. Ceja de Selva from 2,800m is not less than a variety of breads from cacao, smoked yucca with burned butter and cracker of papa voladora, a “flying potatoe” growing on trees, which has nothing to do with potatoes we know.
Peruvian beaches (Suelo del Mar, 0m) are also good for an interesting dish: sea urchin – melon – razor clam – goat joghurt. Incredibly tasty combination of sweetness from melon and clam with the slightly sour joghurt and the sea urchin who took a bath in lime juice.
Up to 2000m again with Tierra de Maiz, a pure corn course. The vegetable is served nose to tail with fried hairs, creamy dumplings lying around in caramelised corn water. Sweet and earthy at the same time.
To die for the tender pulpo with crispy tentacles in seaweed sauce (Coral del Mar, -10m). On top: crab cracker. Dessert brings us up to 3,700m and is called Verde Húmedo: caigua, cushuro, lima, chaco… please look this up yourself.
The next time in Lima I´ll make sure to book an evening event with at least 11 courses. In any case we left enriched after this amazing tour through the peruvian ecosystems at the bar of Restaurant Central in Lima.
A couple of helpful facts
You can only make a reservation via web-page (or perhaps directly on-site) where you have to order one of the two menus already. The 17 courses will cost you 447.- Soles or USD 135.-, only 11 courses are priced with 368.- Soles/111.- USD (rate of exchange April 2017). If you ask me, this is pretty moderate for a restaurant in this category. Anyone who had the pleasure to eat a pizza in Zurich, will know what I mean.
Reservation opens 30 days prior to a period of four months. A credit card guarantee of 200.- Soles will be asked for. Cancellation at no cost up to three days prior to booking. Lunch is served from 12:45, dinner after 19:45 (or 7:45pm if you insist).
Central Restaurante, C. Santa Isabel 376, Miraflores, Lima Perú
Phone (if you want to try…): +5112428515, +5112428575, +511241672
Buen provecho !