A delicious finedining version of Peruvian comfortfood at Astrid&Gaston
The foodculture in Peru has been open to influence from kitchens all over the World. The traditionel peruvian kitchen therefore contains influence from both Asia, Central America and parts of Europe. A true peruvian experience should therefore cover all of that which Astrid&Gaston offers.
The restaurant is siuated in an old fashionble “manor house” Casa Moreya which has an aristokratis but still modern expression with great artwork on the walls. The building mirrors the style of cooking which is modern without in anyway being experimental, but comforting and delicious.
The first series of snacks was a empenada with fish, lambstuffed blue potato and a seaurchin toast. The very mild seaurchin was definently the highlight.
The next dish was maybe the highlight of the meal. A raw scallop with frozen apples and a bit of basil. It was so refreshing and the basil added a nice layer to the dish. Off course the theatrics of the frozen apples didn’t hurt.
The national dish ceviche was also on the menu. Here it was served with all the classic ingrediens inka corn, sweet potato, corn and a very red and delicious lech de tigre with lots of chili and lime. A great ceviche with amazing colours which I believe is always on the menu.
We continued with another classic peruvian dish, a tiradito. This version was made from raw scallops, the classic yellow chili sauce, onions and nicely decorated with flowers. With just a bit more umami in the sauce then in the ceviche it was great to try to raw fish dishes almost side by side. It was a both beautifull and delicious dish.
The next dish is also a peruvian classic but made with international inspiration. Guinea pig served with extremely crispy skin and a hoisin glace served on a very soft tortilla made with cacao. What makes this dish for me is the contrast in textures from the crispy skin to the soft tortilla.
For the next dish we moved to Venezualia for an amazing arepa. The textures of the arepa was grainy in an amazing way and served with some rich cheese and suckling pig it is bound to score high on deliciouness.
Following in the international section we got a sanchochao dumpling with a bit of chili. A nice dish but the two last dishes were hard to follow.
The next dish was the first one which I just didn´t think hit the mark. A creamy egg probably done sous vide served in a creamy yellow chili sauce with a bruschetta. Everything about it was creamy, but it just wasn´t amazing
Scallop and lucama was served gnocci style which I quite liked. The presentation of the dish was quite good setting on a massive plate with 3 feet in the form of fish. It made me feel like a King from a couple of centuries ago.
Deep frihed parihuela with mole. It was a simple and light dish which was nice at this point of the meal. Off course the red chili “mole” was a great touch.
Rabbit in curry and quinoa shows that it was possible to combination both classic thai flavours with peruvian produce and what is more peruvian than quinoa. It was nice but not amazing and didn’t leave a huge impact.
Roast shot rib stew with chaufa rice was the last of the savoury dishes and the best of the latter half of the meal. Off course it was slowcooked so it could be taken apart with a fork and you can´t really go wrong with sport ribs. Delicious.
The first dessert was a small palet cleanser in the form of a chirrimoya juice with tangerines. Nice and refreshing after a rich short rib stew, but not amazing.
Usually I love cacao desserts from South America, but not this time. The cacao was very sweet and so was the tamale, so for my taste buds this was a dish without balance and just too sweet. I didn´t finish it.
I loved and hated this dessert. A dried carroit which provised a nice touch of umami and amazing cacao mouse. The dried carrot was crispy and the mouse was silky smooth. Very delicious. If only the description of the dish had ended here it would have been an amazing dessert, but for some absurd reason popping candy was added. Something which should only be given to children under the age of 10. It has absolutely no place in finedining. Such a shame to ruin a delicious dish with something so tacky.
Luckily we had the legendary petit four cart with +20 different variations with the options to chooose as many as you want. Off course the visual presentation of this many petit fours is amazing and the 4 that I had were quite good.
With Astrid&Gaston having a place at number 29 in the World 50 Best a meal there comes with high expectaioins. The overall experience was verry well rounded from great tasting food, to nice wines which were off course served in Ridel glasses, knowledgetable and friendly service which all toke place in a beautifull building. A huge negative was however the desserts which were quite disappointing. The chocolade and tamale dessert was way to sweet for me and the use of popping candy is just blasphemy.
I won´t let two bad desserts ruin the otherwise positive impression and I probably will be back to Astrid&Gaston for a classic peruvian meal but it won´t be with the expectation of having my mind blown from creative use of techniques and new flavours. Some might call it a great finedining version of peruvian comfortfood.
A couple of weeks later I was back with my wife and some friends and we had the a la Carter menu. Without going into details I will just say that the tasting menu is definently the way to go both in quality of food and value for money.