I realize that I’ve been ignoring Statera restaurant. Or rather, that I haven’t been going there enough. Part of the problem, I think, has been that I forgot that they are open for lunch (their dinner service doesn’t start until 8 p.m. which is way past my bedtime.) But, their lunch is Tuesday-Sunday, 12:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. I think I’ll go more often for lunch. It’s located at Av. Mariscal La Mar 463, Miraflores. The place doesn’t look so big from outside so it’s easy to miss.
The reasons that I recommend Statera are:
It’s possible to eat there without planning for months out, as one has to do at Central.
The bartender is superbly skilled.
The owner, Andres, is a young chef who worked as Central’s Research and Development chef for two years. He also worked at Noma in Copenhagen. Plus, he speaks English and is personable (and he remembers the critique of his clients). He continually changes his menu, but has managed to keep menu items that worked well (like the pumpkin done in three ways — completely vegan — even though it tastes like fois gras).
While I send people to Statera if they can’t get in to Central, I think that Statera actually manages to embody the “nueva andina” cuisine better — combining both the beauty of presentation and imaginative use of local ingredients, while also providing food that is delicious and of normal portion size.
If for nothing else, go for the black aguaje butter and bread (see photo).
A classic potato dish in Lima is “causa” which translates as the “cause” or fight. But, it can also mean “buddy.” I took some photos while a buddy of mine and her mom made “artisanal” causa… as in homemade (which is one of the points that mega-phone of Peruvian cuisine, Gaston Acurio champions, although you can follow his recipe here). It took them more than three hours. Here is the recipe (sort of) as the grandma making the dish doesn’t use measurements (hence the artsy part of this) and it took so long that I went off to take a nap.
4 large chicken breasts
24 large Peruvian Yellow potatoes
a cup of celery
a large carrot
2 white onions
yellow Peruvian chili paste
salt & pepper
pitted black olives
- Cook the chicken in water with chopped onion, celery, and carrot, and a pinch of salt (large pieces are fine). Boil until chicken breasts are cooked (40 minutes). Pull out chicken breasts and let cool.
- Boil yellow potatoes. When boiled, drain and peel as soon as you can as the peel is easier to remove when the potato is hot.
- Remove the strings off the celery and chop very fine.
- Chop half a white onion very fine.
- Chop/pull the cooked chicken breast.
- Mix the chicken meat with mayonnaise, salt, pepper, onions, and celery.
- Crush by hand the cooked and peeled potatoes. Crush until they are smooth and have a creamy texture. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, lime juice, and chili paste. Keep tasting it until it tastes right.
- In a large lasagna pan (or use a glass, whatever), build your causa. Bottom layer is potato, then the chicken salad, then avocado, then tomato, and then another layer of potato. Use a fork to make a design on the top and decorate with parsley, red pepper slivers, and black olives. Eat straight away or keep in fridge until it “settles” and gets even tastier.
There are other types of causa with crab, shrimp, egg, but chicken salad is typical in Lima. The Lima thing to do is to eat this as an appetizer and then follow with “aji de gallina” which is rice with stewed chicken, another classic dish from Peru.
On a sunny Saturday, Mike of Gringo Cantina, told us where he eats. I was going to try all his recommendations but I’m not sure that I’m that motivated. So here is his list.
Salvo patria, Calle 54A, #4-13
El Chato, Diagonal 68, #11 a-29
Bandido, Calle 79B, #7-12
Bruto, Carrera 10A, #70-50: I’ve been here and it was so so. But, many other people like it.
Tomodachi, Diagonal 70A, No. 4-66: This place is so cute, like an authentic ramen shop in Tokyo. If only they had Tokyo Ramen’s broth and the other guy’s noodles.
La condessa, Calle 85 (and other location): I hoped it would be great. They have fancy beer… But, the Florentine salad was a revelation. The lettuce was delicious. Completely undressed.
Les Amis – 86 – 14. A bakery.
(in La Candelaria) only open at lunch. I can’t recall the name but it’s also owned by an American.