What to do when you have time to kill during a layover in Lima, an otherwise rather gloomy and hazy city? Go to Astrid y Gaston, the 3rd best restaurant in Latin America and 30th in the world (according to here and here).
Recently Peru has been experiencing somewhat of a culinary explosion, as phrased by Forbes in this article, catapulting up to compete with heavy-hitter culinary destinations like France and Italy. A focus on traditional preparation, unique local ingredients, and a pride in the countries’ diverse and delicious offerings is to blame for people flocking here to taste what everyone is talking about.
I was lucky enough to have some time to kill in Lima, and made a reservation in advance to go for lunch at Astrid y Gaston. The reception table and waiting area at the entrance was enough – I loved the building and the design and I was already happy.
Friendly staff led me to a seat at the bar, perfect for watching the open kitchen in action. The cleanliness and order in the kitchen was amazing, considering the crazy amount of orders which were coming through. Each dish is plated at one side, overseen with careful eyes to ensure everything is perfect.
While perusing the menu I was offered a delicious basket of assorted breads and three amazing butters – creamed with sea salt, smoked tomato, and avocado.
I chose the scallops to start. Cooked to utter perfection, they melted in your mouth, topped with a crunchy streusel and served with equally buttery gnocchi. In Peru where there are hundreds of potato varieties we’ve never heard of, they sure know how to cook a potato (and a scallop).
For my main I had the rabbit – served two ways, as a sausage and roasted, accompanied by quinoa, bulgur, and green pea risotto. Art on a plate.
With my bill came some little sweets – flavoured with pisco and coca, both local and famously Peruvian. A delightful experience and one I would be happy to repeat.