Astrid & Gaston
Tumbo – Lurch, Pineapple, Orange, Lemongrass Syrup
Cholo Mule – Pisco Huaragai Torontel, Lemon, Cucumber Syrup, Ginger, Elderflower Tonic
Cheese Bread, Red Pepper Aji Roll, Herb Focaccia, Purple Potato and Cocona Bread with Salted Butter, Smoked Tomato Spread, Guacamole
The Arepa Who Thinks its a Mixto Sandwich – Andean Cheese, Cheek Ham, Quince Chalaca
Dim Sum Cuy – Peking Guinea Pig in a Purple Corn Bao with Hoisin and Pickles
Stuffed Arracachita – Arabian-Andean scented Lamb, Red Onions, Pepper Puree
The Rabbit and The Loche Pumpkin – Lima Curry, Sweet Potato Roti, Jasmine Scented Quinoa
Chifa Nikkei Stewed Beef – Sticky Chaufa, Char Siu Cheeks
King Kong – Pineapple, Quince, Homemade Caramelized Milk, Lucuma, Coffee and Saffron Ice Cream
Miracle Bomb – Chocolate, Turron, Aguaymanto, Purple Corn, Rosewood Incense
Currently ranked Number 33 on “the list” it was unfortunately after a lengthy delay due to traffic that two diners arrived late for dinner at Astrid & Gaston on Thursday night, the staff both courteous and understanding of the circumstances with seating happily accommodated despite the Restaurant being expectedly busy.
Without doubt a landmark in South American gastronomy, the husband and wife team of Gaston Acurio and Astrid Gutsche relocating their eponymous kitchen to Casa Moreyra in 2014, guests ascending the front steps of Astrid & Gaston are immediately cast into a fantasy world divided across multiple rooms including trees, statues and plants suspended from ceilings, every detail right down to the restrooms reminiscing past and present of the building’s unique history.
No longer the only one of its kind, Acurio’s empire now global with a second Astrid y Gaston in Mexico City plus several other concepts elsewhere, it was after a short pause in the foyer that guests were led to a sizable two-top just outside the kitchen where cooks frequently shouted “Oyido” in unison.
Not offered a tasting menu, the surrounding tables also ordering a la carte which makes one wonder whether such a thing is still available, it was quickly after settling in that Cocktails were ordered as Menus were perused, the layout not too different from Chicha in Cusco but both prices and portions more substantial.
Embracing the same globally-influenced Peruvian style of cooking that the couple always has, many dishes presented with a story, it was while sipping refreshing beverages including an elegant yet atypical Mule that four Breads and three Spreads arrived for 15 Sol each, the Purple Potato with Cocona sweet and delicious with simple Butter while the Aji Roll was heated but not too spicy and quite similar to Pizza when topped in a spread of Smoked Tomatoes.
Taking into account a long day including lots of sun plus three sizable meals including lunch at La Mar and ordering accordingly, a typical three-course progression probably an appropriate amount of food for most, it was with three Appetizers that dining began perhaps thirty minutes after seating, “The Arepa Who Thinks its a Mixto Sandwich” not easily shared but appropriately titled based on taste and texture while Dim Sum Cuy and Stuffed Arracachita take traditional Peruvian Meats and veer international with the former virtually indistinguishable from Duck and the later deeply perfumed with what resembles a Yellow Curry.
Taking a unique approach to Entrees that sees ‘sides’ presented separate from the Meats and Vegetables, “The Rabbit and The Loche Pumpkin” placing roasted Saddle in fragrant Curry with crispy Flatbread and Quinoa on the side, it was surprisingly Acurio’s Beef Cheek Stew that stood out as a result of incredible tenderness and a sweet yet earthy finish not unlike Mole.
At this point turning the program over to Astrid, her Pastries already impressive four times out of four at other Restaurants,, it was ignoring warnings from the server that “Miracle Bomb” joined King Kong to end the night, the latter essentially a tropical Mille Feuille that finds its foil in Coffee and Saffron Ice Cream while the Chocolate Balloon is shattered instead of melted to reveal contents that range from Fruit to Cocoa and crispy to creamy as a faint Christmas-y aroma ties it all together.