After two straight months of hearing nothing but sensational things about Brasa & Pisco, the newest Peruvian rotisserie and craft drink destination, Jill and I joined a group of friends and fellow food writers/bloggers for dinner last week.
And just like that, this hot spot has a new group of raving foodie fans! (Apparently, dining out with friends is a “thing” there, as I saw a few large groups of folks enjoying themselves.)
The advantage of dining with a group of friends is being able to collectively “ooh” and “aah” our way through a variety of menu items and drinks – trying a bite or two of each of them, which makes it all the better to share with our fabulous readers.
Naturally, we had to order the national cocktail of Peru, the Pisco Sour. Let me just say for the record that this was the absolute best Pisco I’ve had in forever. If you are a fan, you owe it to yourself to try one at Brasa & Pisco. If you are not a fan yet, you will be. We also tried the Passion Fruit Pisco Sour, as well as a completely refreshing white sangria, which as you can see, was not so white due to the addition of chicha morada. (You may notice that I’ve made liberal use of hyperlinks in this blog. Otherwise trying to describe every dish would result in a blog longer than “War and Pisco!”)
I could go on and on about the other craft cocktails but this is a food blog and Brasa & Pisco absolutely killed it with every dish our large group of foodies ordered.
We started by sampling the Tempura Ceviche, a brilliantly modern take on fish ceviche dipped in Darwin’s Circa 1926 beer batter, flash-fried and topped with a yellow pepper aioli and purple onions. The result is a crispy exterior, then soft, savory center, then . . . it was GONE!
Up next was the Traditional Ceviche, you know . . . the dish that has everyone falling in love with Peruvian cuisine at first bite. Brasa & Pisco’s ceviche is a presentation of fresh fish “cooked” in lime juice,onions and cilantro beautifully balancing with the acidity of this fish. This classic dish was accompanied by choclo, diced sweet potato, Peruvian fried corn and romaine lettuce. It was so delicious we placed a second order!
From those delicious beginnings things got even more interesting. The Causa Tartare, a savory version of a “Napoleon,” started with yellow pepper potato terrine on the first layer, avocado on the second and a tuna tartar on the third. This tower of awesomeness is then topped with black sesame and orange rocoto reduction. What can I say? As beautifully as this dish was prepared, the layers of nuanced and harmonious flavor were downright healthy tasting.
In another classic spin on things . . . may I introduce Brasa & Pisco’s Quinoa Capri. A tri-color quinoa is mixed right into their house-made queso fresco resulting in a “mozzarella-inspired” cheese with a nutty bite that’s ideally paired with alternating bites of fresh basil, red and green tomatoes and finished with a yellow pepper vinaigrette and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. This is an easy salad to recommend to anyone. It’s creative while being appealing to even to the most timid palates.
Soon after, we were treated to one of the most visually arresting dishes I’ve seen in a while – the Trio Causa. This mashed potato based recipe was another gorgeous amalgamation with spinach, beet, and yellow pepper terrines topped with octopus (which almost went M.I.A. before we could take a picture!) chicken salad, and shrimp. The trio of sauces included a green huacatay sauce, another treat that helped broaden our deep appreciation of Peruvian magical cuisine, as well as a strawberry balsamic. Listed under the appetizer section of the menu, the Trio Causa is perfectly sized for sharing, unless you’re the type to fight over who gets to eat the octopus, or even as a meal in itself.
Of all the deliciousness we had experienced up until now, what came next was the show-stopper for me. The Quinoa Risotto is now officially on my list of dishes worth making repeated visits to Brasa & Pisco. In my book, a rich and creamy risotto is as close to culinary nirvana as I can ever imagine, so when this version was presented with big slices of grilled fresh tuna on top of a tri-colored yellow pepper quinoa risotto, it gave new meaning to the term “superfood!” I cannot tell you how much I L-O-V-E-D this dish.
Are we at desserts yet? Not hardly! Our table’s next sampling came in the form of the Pescado a la Chorrillana, another Peruvian delight featuring seared swordfish, over a sweet potato purée, blanketed with chorrillana sauce, and fried onions. It was “almost” too beautiful to eat . . . almost!
Changing over to a beefy protein dish, out came the Tacu Tacu a lo Brasa. This perfectly grilled strip loin cut was marinated with an aji panca marinade, served with tacu tacu, and topped with a fried egg (count me in on being a fan of rich runny egg yolks on practically anything,) as well as diced sweet plantains and a Peruvian onion slaw. A side of chimichurri sauce (not shown) made this dish an absolute winner for any red meat afficianado!
Our final entrée took us back to the ocean with the Pescado a lo Macho, a fried fish bathed in a yellow pepper cream sauce and more delicacies from the sea; with shrimp, mussels and grilled octopus in abundance. The crispy fried fish held up well to the cream sauce, remaining crunchy while embracing the mild yellow pepper flavors.
As with all the other dishes, the description and expert preparation transports Brasa & Pisco’s guests to South America, introducing dishes and exotic ingredients that are immediately thrilling and accessible to everyone.
Knowing there was a table of foodies, you didn’t think we’d skip out without dessert, did you?
For those whose mantra is “life is short, eat dessert first,” Brasa & Pisco has you covered. Their Picarones sound so much like a vegetarian side dish than a dessert, even if their appearance doesn’t. These are spiced sweet potato and squash doughnuts glazed with fig syrup. Just bring me a fresh cup of black coffee and the Picarones will finish things off in style!
Did I say finish? Not so fast, as we learned a culinary and history lesson while sharing bites of the house-made Lucuma Cheesecake. This chilled cake is made with the nutrition rich lucuma fruit, once prized by the Incas of Peru and clearly the perfect ingredient for this otherwise New York style cheesecake. (And who doesn’t love a twist on a cheesecake?)
And I’d like to say the Chocolate Mousse escaped untouched after such a prodigious feast, but hey, it’s chocolate mousse for heaven’s sake! Brasa & Pisca’s mousse was served with a cinnamon tuile cracker and a sprinkling of fruit caviar. Needless to say, our table left no dish unturned!
We were all left with one question as we said our fond farewells; how does Brasa & Pisco strike such perfect contrasting flavor notes dish after dish after dish? (After dish, after dish . . . )
Forget trying to improve on Brasa & Pisco at home. We are content to return – time and again – to discover more about the endlessly fascinating and wholly satisfying cuisine of Peru!