OK I just complained about the lack of supermarkets in my new neighborhood, but we do have one thing to be happy about: Chimu, on Union Ave at Meeker, a Peruvian steakhouse that opened a few weeks ago. We live down the street and have been twice already. The owners are really lovely people, warm, welcoming, they've stopped by to see what we think of each course and actually paid attention to what we said. When we've had questions about the food (as in: what were those slightly chewy bits in the free cookie you gave us?) the waitress has actually gone into the kitchen to find out (it was the Peruvian equivalent of anise). So far we've had:
-small bowls of roasted corn kernels (complimentary, instead of bread basket): completely addictive. We can't figure out how they make them, but they're crunchy without being tooth-breakers like the leftover kernels at the bottom of your popcorn bowl, nicely slick with oil, salty. If they sold these by the bag we'd buy them.
-sweet plantains (as an appetizer): very well executed, not too greasy, crispy on the outside, melting on the inside
-chicken tamal: very, very yummy. Chunks of chicken & egg & olives inside a spicy cornmeal mix. Came with a marinated red onion salad/condiment whose exact ingredients we couldn't figure out but really loved. We devoured this.
-1/4 rotisserie chicken w/salad and rice & beans: excellent chicken. Tons of flavor, juicy, no complaints. And the rice & beans had me licking the bowl. Only took issue w/the salad dressing, which tasted bottled--a surprise, since the salad itself was more than just iceberg and a slice of mealy cucumber. If memory serves, this was $3.95!
-spaghetti w/peruvian cheese sauce & grilled steak: we had no idea what to expect of this, it just sounded so strange, and it turned out to be...strange. The steak was wonderful, really tasted great (and it wasn't a fancy cut or an expensive entree--most of the stuff is in the $10 range). But the spaghetti w/cheese sauce was just strange. It was a big pile of the stuff, sort of glutinous and almost Kraft mac 'n' cheese looking, and almost entirely without taste. Most of that stayed behind on the plate.
-sauteed chicken with tomatoes & onions on french fries with white rice (I'm pretty sure that's how it's listed on the menu): this was a definite winner. It arrived with the chicken served over the fries, and the rice on a separate plate--the exact opposite of what we expected, but it turned out to be quite delicious. Didn't end up eating much of the rice since the fries were so delicious soaking up the saucy stuff. Spicy but not too, very generous portion. Our favorite antree so far.
-tacu tacu (I believe that's what it's called): advertised as a rice & beans risotto w/steak, it wasn't exactly that. As w/the spaghetti, the steak was really good, this time served with a grilled (we think) version of the red onion salad that came w/the chicken tamal. Wonderful. But also as w/the spaghetti, the rice & beans risotto wasn't that great. Bland, starchy. They had offered us some "spicy sauce" so we thought perhaps that would help, and added some liberally. It turned out to be the hottest stuff we'd ever encountered--I stuck the tines of my fork in it just to see, and the tip of my tongue tingled for a good half hour. Imagine 100x straight wasabi. So the risotto was mostly left behind on the plate, too.
-the purple corn w/dried fruits dessert: again, we had no idea what to expect, and it turned out to be almost like a pudding. Served warm, it was a little bowl of the stuff, richly purple and thick but not solid, not too sweet, with chunks of pineapple and some other fruit we couldn't identify. I adored it, my fiance liked it but wasn't nuts for it like I was. Last night we wanted to try the peruvian rice pudding, but after a few minutes our waitress returned, very apologetic, with either an owner or manager, to say they were out of it. He insisted we try an alfajores cookie, on the house. I'd heard of these, sandwich cookies with creme caramel, but never tasted one before. It was large enough to share, pretty light and crispy, almost shortbready, with the aforementioned bits of peruvian anise. Couldn't really taste the caramel, but we ate the whole thing happily.
Last night's total, for the tamal, sauteed chicken, tacu tacu, & soft drinks (w/free dessert): $23.95. Please, try this place out! It's been pretty empty most nights during the week, only hopping on Fri and Sat nites, and we're worried that it won't last...