[Lee, MA] Alpamayo

We’d never eaten Peruvian food before so it was with some degree of excitement that we sat down. We’d not really any preconceptions about what we were about to eat. And, of course, would have no idea about what we were about to eat was a good representation of the country’s cuisine. Nor would we be in any position to know any more about the food other than if we enjoyed it.

The server was very helpful.in guiding us through the menu. We quickly discounted the guinea pig, not least as she twitched negatively when she mentioned it. I know a negative twitch when I see one - and we’d also done some research suggesting it can be like dry, chewy chicken which is no recommendation however adventurous a foody you might be. So, we ordered fish ceviche to start. It was absolutely bloody lovely. As we knew, lime juice “cooks” the fish (in this case, haddock). It’s difficult to describe the texture – not raw but not cooked as if you’d put heat to it. It comes with raw red onion and cooked corn – big kernels of white corn – nothing like the kernels you get from “corn on the cob”. It’s light, fresh tasting and spiked with a decent chilli hit.

The main courses were very much a contrast to the starter. Beef saltado was very carb heavy. It’s strips of steak, fried with onions and tomato and mixed with fries. But, also on the side, is a serving of rice. There’s a savoury but quite salty gravy.

Arroz Chaufa may be the biggest plate of food I’ve ever been served. It was a veritable mountain of egg fried rice, chicken, spring onions and peppers. Effectively, this was chicken fried rice as you might be served in a Chinese restaurant, right down to the soy sauce. But it is an entirely Peruvian dish, albeit one based on Chinese immigration to the country. You would need a ferocious appetite to finish this. I tried my best – but it just wasn’t good enough.

It’s fair to say that the main courses were a bit of let-down after the ceviche. Plates of food that were fine in themselves but not sufficiently interesting that we’d want to come back and try more. But if you do go, order a glass of jug of their “limenade”. It’s one of the most delicious non-alcoholic drinks I can recall drinking and an absolute perfect match for the food.