There seems to be a renaissance taking place in the neighborhood restaurant scene at the intersection of Webber and Beneva. There are four small shopping plazas dotting each corner of the intersection, and from my last count, there are at least five small independent restaurants there, all of which are fascinating in their own right. And, I’m happy to report, that all of them seem to be growing roots, hopefully to stay!
The newest of these, at the time of this blog anyway, is CeviChef Peruvian and Cuban Cuisine, located in the shopping plaza on the southeastern corner of this busy intersection.
The night of our visit was one of those spur-of-the-moment decisions . . . one of those “I don’t feel like cooking tonight” meals where we wanted to be out, but felt like staying close to home, if that makes sense to anyone. Fortunately, from the moment we entered, I was pleased to find a small, neat dining room that’s intimate without a hint of pretense. Another sign that always tells me we’re in for a treat when eating at an ethnic themed restaurant, was the complete absence, it seemed, of any gringos other than us in the dining room. I’m super comfortable with that!
Since the menu featured both Peruvian and Cuban specialties, thoughtfully marked with tiny national flags on the menu, we had fun figuring out what to select from each country of origin. A shared appetizer seemed like a good way to jump right in, and we chose the Tostones Varadero – small cups made of fried plantain stuffed with moist and tasty crab and a hint of cilantro on top. Super flavorful, I imagine this to be like an authentic “street food” item, and while I don’t profess to actually know this as fact, I’m loving this choice. The crunchy texture of the plantain made a great vehicle getting the abundance of crab into my watering mouth. Yum!
Everything offered on the menu sounded exotic, while remaining appealingly accessible to anyone who might not have an adventurous palate. With so many tantalizing choices appealing to her, Jill narrowed in on Arroz Con Pato, a full half of tender broiled duck, marinated in dark beer and fine herbs and served over a rice with cilantro sauce. Ever one to take note of a recommendation, she liked that the menu stated it came highly recommended by the Chef, as well as our oh-so-friendly server, Wendy.
Again, the presentation was straightforward, with the magnificent flavors doing all the talking here. The seasoning on the duck was ideal, the skin crisp and the meat tender and juicy – nothing overly spicy that may cause some folks to be afraid of trying something new. I don’t think we’ve ever tackled a duck dish at home, so this is always something that beckons us when we dine out. Having tasted a bite or two myself, the Arroz con Pato was definitely something we’d make a return visit for! The portion size was large enough, and the tastes worthy enough, for a to-go box when we were done.
I decided on what I perceived to be a Peruvian comfort food dish, and was rewarded with exactly that! Tallarines A La Huancaina Con Lagostinos – jumbo shrimps sautéed in Pisco (Peruvian Liquor) served over fettuccine in a traditional huancaina sauce. A quick Google search after the fact describes this as a simple spaghetti in a rich cream sauce using some indigenous ingredients. CeviChef’s variation had the always welcome addition of plump, perfectly cooked shrimp and fresh herbs. Absolutely a stick-to-the-ribs winner, this dish tasted like we’d been invited to someone’s house, and were enjoying some treasured, old traditional family recipes prepared by grandma herself.
As with most meals this substantial and delicious, we recognized our limits and decline the allure of ordering dessert – at least on this night.
I don’t know whether the owners are planning on a website, but as of this writing there isn’t one yet. Our server said they’re still tweaking the menu as guests compliment one dish or another, so you know these owners are doing everything they can to create a loyal following. There are, as yet, precious few outside reviews of CeviChef, but the few we saw were positive.
Be it a “I don’t feel like cooking at home” night or one of those days you’re running from place to place and don’t time to feed yourself right, why not try this intimate little haven of goodness? If you find yourself yearning for some authentic, wholesome Latin American cuisine, at reasonable prices, you probably should give CeviChef a try. We did!