Tag Archives: Peruvian

Peruvian Infusion Confusion

20 Sep


Many years ago in the first year of our food group’s existence, we traveled to Corona, Queens for a dinner at a restaurant called La Pollada de Laura (Cooked in Corona). The restaurant was simple yet comfortable and owned and run by a Peruvian family. The ceviches were plentiful and perfectly “cooked” in lime juice and chili peppers. The fried seafood in the jalea was fresh, crispy and accompanied by a salsa criolla while the lomo saltado, beef with onions and fried potatoes was piquant with citrus, the contrast between the beef and the grilled onions along with the French fries, perfection. We ate until we were bursting and the food, including all that fresh fish, dessert and beer was well under our $20 budget. We wondered how such a place with prices like that could exist. Sadly, La Pollada de Laura did not exist much longer; it closed a few years after our experience there, but the restaurant set the bar for all other Peruvian restaurants we have visited since.

So when Mike from Yonkers sent out the email announcing his choice of Carta Brava and noted that the food was Peruvian, he included, in parenthesis “again,” I was hopeful but not optimistic that the very high bar set almost 15 years ago could be met.

The restaurant, a small, really more of a takeout place located on a side street in ethnically diverse, New Rochelle, noted on its sign that it served “Peruvian Infused cuisine.” Why would good Peruvian food need an infusion of anything, I just didn’t know, but I did try to keep an open mind.

When dining at a Peruvian restaurant the ceviche is always a must and both Mike from Yonkers and Eugene ordered the mixed ceviche. It arrived in a small bowl, the fish cooked by the acid though whatever else was infused in it diluted some of its usual bold flavor.



The jalea, a fried mix of seafood; fish, squid, shrimp was done well, not greasy and complemented by the spicy house made criolla sauce. But, and I know I was asking too much, it just could not compare to the mountain of seafood that was the jalea of La Pollada de Laura.



Gerry’s chicken leg, also known as pollo a la brasa,  arrived presently beautifully on a white platter; the rotisserie chicken glowing a deep bronze color  and served with green (cilantro) rice. The dish was a very pretty picture but left Gerry wanting more, something that never could have happened back at La Pollada de Laura.


Pollo a la Brasa 

Finally, after most of us, Mike from Yonkers excluded of course, were done, Zio’s lomo saltado with beef and shrimp arrived. Also assembled with attention to photographic detail, the saltado was flavorful but again, the authenticity, or was it something else, was just missing.


Lomo Saltado

“I think this is suburban Peruvian food,” I said to Gerry who nodded his agreement.

“It needs an infusion of something but I just can’t say what,” he said.

No one else could either and we were even more speechless when the check arrived and put us well over budget. We’ve overpaid for meals in the past, but this one left us hungry and nostalgic for a real home-cooked Peruvian meal on Northern Boulevard.


Carta Brava

6 Division Street

New Rochelle

Panic and Perseverance in a Peruvian Restaurant in the Bronx

21 Oct

La Granja

“Let me tell you, this food group is falling apart,” Eugene spewed. He was hot. He was irate. The scowl on his face was blood red.  Zio, Eugene and I were seated at a table for four at La Granja, the Peruvian restaurant I choose on 149th Street in the Bronx. The enticing aroma of chickens slowly rotating on a rotisserie filled the small restaurant. I had just received a text from Gerry that he would be late; that he was just leaving White Plains thus igniting Eugene’s tirade.

“First it’s Rick and his excuses, then it’s Mike, and now Gerry’s late” Eugene muttered with a shake of his head. “I’m wasting my time here.”

To get Eugene out of his funk, we wasted no time ordering a round of Cusquenas, Peruvian beers, and then proceeded promptly to the food. Eugene inquired about the “chicken in the window” to our happy waiter. He wasn’t sure what chicken Eugene was referring to, but assumed it must be the Pollo a la Brasa, the restaurant’s signature dish and whose aroma we were inhaling. Despite the waiter’s insistence that he would not go wrong by ordering it, Eugene instead focused on the “bird” section on the menu where he chose the pollo salteado.

“What is cau cau,” I asked the waiter. There was a photo of the dish in the window of the restaurant, but I could not identify it.

Smiling once again, the waiter, who could not translate what it was, rubbed his belly.

“Stomach?” I guessed in this game of charades.

He nodded. “ Yes, stomach.”

“I think he means tripe,” I said.

“Ah, trippa,” Zio intoned rhapsodically.

I turned to Zio. “Are you gonna order it?”

“No,” he said without hesitation, instead pointing to the arroz con mariscos (yellow rice with seafood) while I chose the jalea personal as opposed to the jalea familiar which translated to a mountain of fried seafood enough for a familia..

Does that look like "stomach" to you?

Does that look like “stomach” to you?

For starters we ordered the palta rellena, a whole avocado stuffed with chicken, but our starter arrived well after Eugene’s pollo salteado,  Zio’s arroz con mariscos and just in time for Gerry’s arrival.

Quickly ordering the ceviche mixto, Gerry was able to share the avocado that was stuffed with nothing more than chicken salad.

The Jalea Personal, accompanied by the house made hot sauce, though not a mountain was a big enough hill of crisply fried shrimp, squid, fish, and mussels for me to slowly shovel through, pausing only to remove the fibrous strings in the fried yucca that was part of the mound on my plate.

Jalea Personal

Jalea Personal

Turning to my left, I noticed Zio, head down, plowing methodically through his yellow rice and seafood, pausing occasionally to wipe the grease from his hands. Across the table we knew Eugene, after filling up on his ample plate of pollo salteado, was in a better mood when he teased the trio of Yankee fans at the table about their quick demise in the playoffs. Fearing a return of his dark mood, we took Eugene’s ribbing graciously and didn’t dare mention that his Red Sox had once again finished in the cellar of the American League East.

Gerry’s ceviche arrived last, but after a sample bite, it was certainly not least. Topped by strands of seaweed, the “cooked” raw fish was swimming in lime and cilantro and sprinkled with hidden bits of hot pepper that had Gerry guzzling his Cusquena.

Arroz con mariscos

Arroz con mariscos

Despite the abundance of seafood we devoured, we came in very close to our $20 budget. And after paying we conferred on our next date. When notified of that date Rick responded in an email: “I will endeavor not to be thrown overboard the righted ship,” which, speaking only for myself, did wonders in reinforcing his commitment to our monthly gluttony and its future prospects. On the other hand, Mike from Yonkers’ “Business should be slowed down by then,” just did not have the same effect.

La Granja

La Granja

500 E. 149th St.


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