The future, Mater Iniciativa and Pia. These 3 words sum up the reason for Central moving from their old location in Miraflores to Barranco.
The old Restaurant Central was located in a residential building in Miraflores with buildings surrounding it completely and the restaurants ambitions had outgrown the space a long time ago and the “cramped building” left little room for inspiration or to be creative.
The new building houses 3 different facilities. Restaurant Central, a much bigger space for Mater Iniciativa which situated in a “glass building” inside the massive building which provides even more exposure and visibility for their important work and in a month or two Restaurant Kjolle which Pia will run herself and hereby taking a step out of Virgilios shadow and showing the World her creations and vision.
The first menu at the new restaurant has one small change to the old one as it is “only” 16 dishes and not 17, but otherwise the menu takes you through the many different ecosystems that exist in Peru. A small change to the wine pairing as well as it now only serves wine from Latin America so if you want a glass of champagne order a bottle.
Red rocks – 10m
The first dish consists of 4 small elements where I think that the “percebes” juice is the most interest with its acidic flavors and cool texture.
Edge of the dessert 180m
Again 3 servings in one. A small piece of cactus was made like cotton candy and “wrapped” in sargassum (seaweed) powder it was a small explosion from the sea. A few pieces of raw uni was served with an acidic foam which together with an uni oil was a great match of sweet and acidity. The umami “leather” chips I could eat all day long.
Dark purple root 245m
Virgilio generally loves having a lot of elements in his dishes and this dish was no exception. A duck tartare with a shaved cured duck egg. A great snack and full of flavor. The egg whites were used to make small colored “caviar” served on a mashwa moss.
Forest cotton 106m
Paiche and pagay. I just love the sweetness and the texture of the pagay and filled with a paiche juice it was delicious.
Jungle Highlands 189m
I have always loved the bread serving at Central and today was going to be no exception. It is actually not bread but the textures of the dale dale were similar. Here in two different components. Burned with a sweet dipping and one using its ashes to be served with xx and oxalis. The people from the Amazon are experts in finding and using ingredients for the right purpose and dale dale is generally used to create sexual arousal. It was definitely one of the highlights of the meal, but without the desired effect.
Ocean floor -25m
The next dish is a dish that Virgilio has had on the menu for several years, but a dish that keeps changing over the years and with the seasons. This time the uni was switched for scallop which together with sweet cucumbers is a great combination with the delicious and sweet melon.
Costal foothills 450m
The next wish was brand new and I loved it. A Peruvian take on the Italian gnocchi served with different crunchy elements and a very delicious umami rich oil. It was one of the highlights of the meal.
High Valley 280m
This dish was also among the highlights of the meal. Avocado served with quinoa, sweet river shrimps and a rich and intense fish soup. No cream of course. A combination that worked surprisingly well.
Plant dyes of moray 4050m
For the next two dished we had Central classics. First a “huatica like” prepared potato brought back from Mil just two days prior. In the future Central plans to build an actual huatica in the garden underscoring the bond to the culinary traditions of the people from the Andeans. It is such a simple dish but the flavors are nice and I love the history of the dish with the Andean people cooking potatoes in the ground after a harvest.
Amazonian waters 120m
The next dish is only one-year-old but an instant classic. It is simply fried piranha skin. The presentation is still spot on and like nothing I have seen anywhere else. As a little gift from the kitchen was spoonful of sweet vegetables and crunchy skin. Of course it doesn’t have the theatrical elements as the piranha heads but it was very delicious.
Jungle plains 165m
Churo, cenina, Black chili pepper and bellaco.
Deep sea coral -5m
New version with octopus and sea lettuce. I liked the combination of the octopus and the different elements from the sea, but somehow I felt that the dish would be better if it was just a bit simpler and the octopus had a bigger role.
Andean slopes 3300m
The last savory dish was one of the highlights. The most succulent piece of goat served with a munia cream and olluco. The combination of goat and munia was just delicious.
Amber woods 250m
Coconut in different elements provided a sweet and salty start to the desserts.
Mountain rain 2100m
The next dessert I was however not a big fan of. A chocolate mousse made with 35% cacao served with in my opinion too many elements where I just didn’t think that the textures worked together and as the “sorbet” melted it was to watery in its textures and flavors.
Mil medicinals 3680m
To finish was medicinal plants with a crisp and delicious piece of chocolate and a drink with the now famous lake algae’s and I think a bit of munia. After 16 dishes I always believe that the infusion or juice that they serve at this point is very good for me, but if nothing else it tastes very good.
During the meal I did a bit of calculation and this was my 6 visit to Central in just 1 one year. It is therefore safe to say that I am familiar with the concept of the restaurant and this menu did not stand our as being very different from the other menus that I have had there. I love the use of theatrics, the surprisingly flavor combinations and of course Virgilios winning personality making Central one of the fine dining restaurants that I keep coming back to. A good piece of advice though is to go hungry as it is an extensive menu and only a few dishes are snack size and then they are 3-4 counting for one snack.
A with other restaurant openings it was very tight for time. Therefore, not everything was as it should be, but nothing that changed the experience. However, it would not be fair to the restaurant to poste pictures of a lounge and bar area that is not finished, but also one that is not open to the public yet. Those pictures I will therefore post later. I really like the design of the new place. The big garden provides a much better entrance to the place which together with trees that actually grow inside the restaurant and through the roof provides the connection with the nature that I feel that Central needed in the old restaurant. The chairs are bigger, more comfortable and give the restaurant a more luxurious feel which underscores the overall experience which in general feels more luxurious because of the use of materials and simply because there is more space. I am quite curious to see how the bar is going to be uses in the future as it is both big and part of it is has no roof so the area should be amazing in the summer time and maybe even become a spot that I would visit just for a few dishes and always the 16 course menu.
To me the new Central has taken the best parts of Mil with the closeness to nature and from the old Central the luxurious feel and open kitchen. There is no doubt that with the new kitchen which is twice the size of the old one Virgilio will get more space and possibilities to develop his vision of Peruvian food. More space for Mater Iniciativa is crucial for their continued ambitious where I am certain that a steady stream of new ingredients will only spark Virgilios curiosity.
I am therefore very curious to see how the menu is going to change not in 2 months but in 6-12 month. While we wait for that, Kjolle with Pia in front will soon open the doors for her take on Peruvian food which is yet to reveal itself. I know I am curious.
Chef: Virgilio Martinez
Menu price: 200 $ for a tasting menu exclusive wine
Style: Modern Peruvian fine dining
Menu: Tasting menu of 12 or 16 dishes
Location: Lima, Peru
Website and reservation: http://centralrestaurante.com.pe/en/