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New Peruvian restaurant on Smith - Mancora - a report

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New Peruvian restaurant on Smith - Mancora - a report

eeee | Sep 13, 2002 09:37 AM

Yesterday I decided to try the new Peruvian place, Mancora, that opened this week on Smith and Warren. I went there around 9 p.m.; the place was about a third full. The decor is very orange and very dark; there are cracks in the back wall that alarmed my dining companion until we determined that they were merely painted on the wall for that much sought after Inca ruin effect.

One of the very nice servers brought over a dish of roasted corn - like unpopped popcorn - and plantain chips, along with a dish of red and green sauce swirled together. It was bland and seemed mayo-based, so I didn't eat the sauce, but I did keep eating those tasty roasted corn kernels.

They don't have a wine list but they do serve merlot and chardonnay (probably my two least favorite wines) by the class. Since I didn't pay (thanks, dining companion), I don't know if the wine was complimentary or not. I settled for the merlot and it turned out to be fruity and drinkable, which is all I can expect of such a grape. You can also bring your own wine for the time being.

The menu is reasonably priced. There's rotisserie chicken for chicken fans (the kitchen isn't open so I couldn't take a look), a selection of ceviche dishes, a lot of fish dishes, most of which seem to be either red snapper or shrimp, and meat dishes (steak, pork, chicken, lamb.) The most expensive dish? $15. There are also some uninspired-looking salads.

We ordered the ceviche de camarones and a chicken soup with cilantro to start. The chicken soup was a revelation. I was expecting the typical clear chicken broth with some sprigs of cilantro. Instead, the soup was GREEN and very, very cilantro-y. It was filled with chunks of tender, tasty chicken, rice and peas. Seriously, it would have made a delicious light meal by itself. The shrimp ceviche was fine - 6 shrimp, lots of spicy red onions, some yam.

Between the corn kernels and the soup, we were already filling up. Then the entrees arrived. I had the snapper "Tacu Tacu" which was a bit overdone. It was laced with sweet potato (not really "crusted" as advertised) and came with those tasty red onions, an enormous heap of black beans and rice (much heavier on the beans than the rice) and chunks of fried yucca. For all that, the fish filet was tasty but small.

My friend ordered the "Steak Mancora." It was NOT small. It was a huge, tender portion of juicy, fatty steak with chimichurri sauce, some very uninspired french fries (they tasted like the stuff that comes out of plastic bags in the supermarket freezer) and some other stuff I didn't look at because I was too busy eating. That was the big ticket item - $15.

After we finished, the server brought us a free slab of flan. I am no flan fan, but it seemed sweet, creamy and dense, which I assume are desirable flan qualities.

The service was very nice and attentive, and the servers wore tuxes.

I've never had Peruvian food before, but I enjoyed my meal at Mancora, and I intend to take out that cilantro chicken soup once it gets colder.

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