Gastón Acurio, Diego Munoz (above)
Peruvian meets haute cuisine
Noble robado fish, served in miso sauce with crunchy oysters
Calle Cantaurias 175, Miraflores, Lima
+51 1242 4422
Despite its discreet setting – behind an old colonial façade on a side street near Lima’s Parque Kennedy – and its cosy, low-key ambience, Astrid y Gastón is all about exuberance and personality. Perhaps it’s no wonder: Gastón Acurio has been Peru’s best known celebrity chef for more than a decade, with a fine-dining empire that now stretches from Bogotá to Madrid, from Buenos Aires to San Francisco and New York. But this Miraflores original – opened in 1994 and slated to relocate to new premises in 2014 – remains his signature eatery, epitomising not just his Peruvian-Mediterranean style but also his own character.
Take, for example, the Peking guinea pig, described on the menu thus: ‘Tired of being rejected by the world, the guinea pig decides to disguise itself as a Peking duck, dressed with rocoto and purple corn crêpe. It got a standing ovation from everyone.’ This culinary whimsy pervades throughout, as indigenous ingredients such as huacatay and aji chilli pepper are combined with global flavours to create dishes such as mango cebiche, or the baby goat leg in a stew served with watercress salad and potatoes. At the dessert course, wife Astrid takes over: her extensive list of sweets tempts the tastebuds with options such as Punished Apple, or Sweetly Trapped Bananas.
Alongside the a la carte options and ‘traditional’ tasting menu, there is also a new seasonal multi-sensory dining experience presented. Entitled El Viaje – The Journey – it charts Italian immigrants sailing to and settling in Peru, expressed through 16 courses enhanced by relevant music, fashion, décor and tableware. If that sounds like it’s verging on the pretentious – fear not: Acurio’s light touch ensures it remains as entertaining as it is ambitious. This, after all, is The Cusqueña Best Restaurant in Latin America.
[Photo credit: Ines Menacho]