So there’s this new ‘go-to’ Peruvian tapas restaurant in town with a certain amount of hype surrounding it. We first heard about it from the stranger’s workmate and once I saw it on the Gourmet Traveller as well as a rave review from a workmate of mine, it quickly became on our hit list. Mestizo Cocina Peruana resides down by the bay of Glenelg but away from the crowds and on a quieter side of the coastal suburb on Partridge Street.
We managed to squeeze in a last minute reservation on the very last day of them being open for 2014 and they were happy to accommodate us before they held one last function that evening. What is Peruvian cuisine anyways? In a nutshell, Peruvian cuisine is quite diverse with influences from many different countries like Spain, Italy, German, Chinese, Japanese and West Africa – all of which were introduced into the country from immigrants. However, as the immigrants were only limited to ingredients available in Peru, a lot of their food and dishes have been changed slightly or have a different take on the originals. Luckily for us Adelaidians, we now have our very first Peruvian restaurant where you could experience and taste Mestizo’s modern take on Peruvian cuisine as they incorporate local South Australian produce for us to enjoy.
Premium Cristal (Peru) – pale lager beer
Given the rather warm day on our visit, the stranger started off with a Peruvian beer as I perused through their tasty sounding menu. It took a lot of effort and a ‘if it’s good, we’ll come back and try more things’ for the stranger and I to cull down our order list to a handful of dishes.
Our waiter was incredibly friendly and helpful, telling us what Peruvian cuisine was all about and giving us recommendations on what to order seeing as it was our first experience with the cuisine. He suggested that we started off with picking a few dishes from the ‘para empezar’ menu to get started and then order the larger plates to share after – just to see how we go.
Papa rellena; $6.00
What a delicious way to start with a hot fried stuffed potato with beef mince, Botija olives and aji Amarillo sauce. A crispy and deep fried crunch with a soft centre of potato, beef mince and a punch of olive flavour, all of which covered in a creamy sauce with a slight kick of spice.
The stranger can never past up the chance to order a slider. Better yet, a fried one! This cute little ensemble of fried pork slider, sweet potato and salsa criolla didn’t last very long after we had half each, two bites and it was gone. I really enjoyed the salsa criolla, which is a South American version of a salsa consisting of pickled-like sliced onions. So tangy, punchy and bright on the palate!
Chicharron cross section
Tamalitos verdes; $6.00
This was our favourite item from the small menu. A steamed parcel of slow cooked pork meat, steamed corn and coriander wrapped in corn husk and accompanied with salsa criolla. We ate it too quickly before my brain registered that I should have taken a photo of what it looked like inside! The steamed corn was like a soft dough (almost like polenta), sweet and subtle in flavour and smooth in texture which had a filling of slow cooked pork meat in the centre that melted away with each bite. The vibrant salsa criolla added a sharp punch and crunch to each mouthful and balanced the bite as a whole, complementing the flavours and textures. So good. We’ll have to order one each next time!
Cusqueña Dorada Golden Lager
We were done with our small bites and as the stranger topped up his beer intake with another Peruvian brew, we ordered our next lot of larger plates to share.
Pulpo al olivo; $16.00
This was highly recommended from a few of the waitstaff on our visit, so of course, we had to order it and give our take on it. Its pretty presentation got quite a few oohs and ahhs… mainly from me!
A long slate of anticuchera (mayonnaise, herbs and ají amarillo chilli sauce) marinated chargrilled octopus, dots of Botija olive mayonnaise and toasted bread pieces decorated the plate. The tentacles were huge! You probably can’t tell from the photos, but they were wrapped in either pork or beef shredded meat pieces before being placed on the grill as there were meat pieces with each mouthful that we could taste and feel. The faint purple botija olive mayonnaise was tangy and punchy which complemented the octopus meat well.
Lomo saltado; $17.00
The following dish is a popular and traditional one influenced by Asian cuisine, a stir fry of wok fried beef fillet, coriander, aji Amarillo, cherry tomato and papas fritas. It looked quite simple and basic but after the first bite paired with a side of garlic rice, we kept going back for more. The marinated beef strips were flavourful and the meat tender and soft, paired with the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes and Spanish onion slices and fragrant garlic rice, taste explosion! That garlic rice… we have got to replicate at home. Such a simple idea yet so so tasty! Oh, and who doesn’t love a side of ‘fried chips’ on the side? Heh!
Garlic rice; $4.00
One last beer for the stranger to wash down all the good food we’d had so far… before we caved and ordered one more plate!
A generous serving of wok fried mussels in cuzquena beer, coriander and aji panca butter with a toasted roll of bread to mop up all the goodness. That beer and butter sauce was so good but we did have to leave the bread behind (too stuffed) so no mopping of the sauce happened.
We were absolutely stuffed by this stage… and then the waiter asked if we wanted dessert?!
Of course we did! 😛
Our dessert was presented on a frozen plate – but even so, we were instructed to eat it quick! A sweet concoction of ‘real’ hazelnut chocolate mousse quenelles which totally reminded us of YoGo and a lightly spiced flavoured sorbet with guargüeros – fried napkins filled with dulce de leche (similar to a cannoli filled with custard). The quenelles of frozen goodies we loved and savoured, but the guargueros was quite thick and hard to bite through and once we did get through it, we were met with a mouthful of salted caramel… a bit too much caramel!
Overall, a really great experience and meal was had at Mestizo. All of the wait staff were friendly and chatty and the food was different but delicious. The team at Mestizo are back from their Chrissy break and have just reopened last week, so pick up your phone and get booking and try out Peruvian cuisine over some Peruvian brew or sangrias! 😉
Mestizo Cocina Peruana
114 Partridge Street
Glenelg SA 5045
P 08 8294 0295
Wed-Fri 12pm–3pm, 5.30pm–11pm