June 2006 Cheap Eats
The salad bar at this festive, pennant-festooned Peruvian restaurant may strike you as a relic of the '70s, but it says something about the generosity on offer. You're not going to go away hungry. And you're not likely to go away unsatisfied.
Peruvians revere their fish, and the long and varied menu abounds in sure-handed preparations, whether they're fried, broiled, sautéed, or uncooked. Ceviche is easy to botch, an overlong soak in its lime marinade easily turning good fish into pickled mush. This one–big, firm hunks of snapper and octopus and whole pink shrimp topped with rings of red onions, the limey tang neatly balancing the chili-fired heat–gets it right.
Chupe de camarones is a zippy chowder, a big bowl teeming with shrimp, ears of corn, egg, and rice. Another cream-based dish, picante de mariscos, features firm, sweet shrimp, squid, and scallops over a mound of rice and potatoes. Nowhere is the piscatory worship more evident than in a plate of head-on trout. Butterflied, expertly deboned, and pan-fried until golden, it's a glorious dish.
Fish is not the only game here. Granja turns out tasty short ribs marinated in garlic, the slight toughness of the meat mitigated by the creamy dipping sauce, and lomito al vino, thick strips of juicy sirloin smothered in a red-wine-based cream sauce.
The smiling waitresses are eager to please. No matter how full you are after such gargantuan portions, they make it hard to resist dessert. Opt for the excellent alfajores, two huge shortbread cookies with a thick layer of caramel in between–a kind of New World linzertorte–and a cup of cinnamon-topped cappuccino.
Open daily for lunch and dinner.