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Balcones del Peru
1360 N. Vine St.
10.06.06 - Friday, 1:00 PM
Myself + 1 guest (Fellow food/writer extraordinaire, Jess)
Where do two devoted and hardcore foodies/bloggers go for a first-time luncheon gathering?
We go ethnic, baby. All the way to Peru.
Los Balcones del Peru has received a lot of hullabaloo since it's opening, and for good reason. The ever-popular Mario's, just south of this haunt, deserved a little Peruvian competition. It hasn't been all raves and lovefests, but for the most part, Balcones is adored. As a recent visitor to the country in question, I was absolutely craving an experience here. So, when world-famous writer/food blogger Jess, of LA Food Crazy fame, tapped me for a lunch powwow, I had a prompt answer to the age-old 'Where should we go?" question.
I did my homework first. I read the many reviews, scanned the Chowhound postings, and landed on a very informative breakdown from blogger Alejandro on his Peru Food blog. Not only did he review the food, but he offered an awesome history of the famous balconies in Lima, for which the restaurant is named. Good stuff. Made me hungry.
Jess and I got acquainted and salivated over the menu. Beef, chicken, seafood - it's all covered. And more ceviche options than I ever thought possible. It's times like these that I wish I had an insanely efficient metabolism and an appetite to match. Oh wait, I have the appetite. Curses.
Anyway, we ordered two of the most-oft raved about dishes, but shied away from Jonathan Gold's beloved favorite - not because I don't believe Mr. Foodie, but because I felt like living on the edge. So crazy, I am.
Service was prompt and friendly, but the place was almost empty. The space is dotted with small replicas of Lima's famous balcones, and that's the only offered ambiance. Tidy, spacious, but certainly not wow-worthy.
Here's what we had:
Just sodas. Nuttin' fancy.
Nondescript thin bread
Los Balcones del Peru Ceviche
-- Calamari (both fried and raw), a luscious white fish, and shrimp marinated in lime yumminess and spiced up to an impressive degree, served with various veggies and real-deal Peruvian corn from le Andes!
Oh.My.God. I could live happily ever after with this dish. It's just insanely good. Super fresh seafood, and calamari so tender it's almost as if Mr. Squid is posing as a stick of butter. The heat was intense but didn't overpower the other flavors, and that gigantic Peruvian corn is the perfect compliment in taste and texture. I loved this all over the place.
Saltado de Mariscos
- Strips of seasoned beef and veggies served on fresh cut french fries and a side of white rice
My my, this two was outstanding. Such an awesome carb + protein combo, although I feel the rice is unnecessary. The smoky flavors and awesome texture contrasts made me ecstatic. I've since tried the chicken version, and it's equally delicious. The quality of ingredients, for the price, is stellar. I'm sold.
Damage for 2 sodas and 2 entrees was about $25, before tip.
RESTAURANT REPORT CARD - Los Balcones del Peru, Visit 1
Ambiance - C
Service - B
Food (Taste) - A-
Food (Presentation) - C+
Wine/Drinks - N/A (just had non-alchies)
Value - A
Vibe/Energy/Scene - C
Overall Experience - B
Final word - yeah, so, it's a wee bit lacking in the ambiance department, and this isn't your fancy pants palace, but the food is original, inexpensive, and absolutely outstanding.