Lunch at Astrid & Gastón, Lima

Upon researching dining in Lima, Astrid & Gastón pops up every time. It is known as one of, or THE best restaurants in Peru. Gastón Acurio is to Peruvian cuisine as Ferran Adrià is to Spanish cuisine. Conveniently, a perk of staying in the posh neighborhood of Miraflores is that we are near great dining options. We walked over there today to try to make a reservation for tonight — silly us, you need at least a week before to get dinner reservations! Duh! They were totally open for lunch though – so we took a stroll to work up our appetites and check out the Parque de Amor and returned for lunch.

Fernando has been using the term “Fancy Plus” for fancy, yuppie places. Well, this place is “Fancy Plus, squared.”

We did okay in deciphering the menu in Spanish, but then we had a question about what “pez” was and the waiter gave us an English menu – darn! That's okay, it was helpful. Pez is fish, by the way.

Para beber: I had aqua con gas and here it was San Pellegrino. Fernando wanted a beer and the waiter recommended and Andean beer, which he liked very much (microbrew).

They then brought us a wonderful basket of bread made from local ingredients, including the Peruvian purple corn, potatoes, and quinoa, with herbed olive oil, plain oil, and butter for dipping. All the breads were delicious and in such variety.

The they brought an aperativo or amuse bouche of rice cracker with nori and aioli (with fish?) – that was nice.

I ordered El Pato with assorted beans and Fernando had the Frutas del Mar in Lomo Saltado style. I liked my dish but found the duck to be a bit dry.

Fernando's dish had succulent scallops, shrimp and fish over rice, with Chinese seasonings, and he enjoyed it.

For dessert, after narrowing down from 4 interesting selections, we chose this artsy dessert with the help of our waiter. There was a lot of flavors and textures, including peach, coconut, chocolate “croutons”, banana and a crisp chocolate thing. Pretty, no?

We observed some excitement by the kitchen and saw some customers taking photos with the blonde lady – we later got that that was THE Astrid of Astrid & Gastón. She was watching something at the table on an iPad, and we asked the waiter what the excitement was. Astrid & Gastón, which had been no. 35 on The World's Best 50 Restaurants List in 2012, just advanced to no. 14 in 2013! The waiters brought us all champagne to celebrate!

To complete our meal, they brought us a gaveta (drawer) of treats. Little bite sized treats of macaroons, alfajores, jellies and truffles served in a colorful, spinning set of drawers.

Well, it was a wonderful lunch. Once you experience no. 14, we need to go for the others on the list, preferably top 10, I told Fernando! We missed out on some extraordinary restaurants in Spain, such as Arzac in San Sebastián! Well, we will just have to go back. Fern saw that D.O.M. in São Paulo is no. 6. – might have to go there for their lunch special. No. 50 (new to the List) is Central Restaurant and is also within walking distance to our hotel here in Lima…we might have to go there for lunch too. Oh, it becomes like a blessed curse!

For such a fancy and enjoyable meal, in US standards, it wasn't too expensive. The bill came to S/.210 which is the most expensive meal we've had here in Peru. But at less than $80, it is pretty affordable when compared to going to a fancy restaurant in the US, such as to no. 11 on the List, Per Se in NYC which would probably set us back $300, or no. 47, French Laundry in Yountville that would definitely break the bank. We also gave them S/.20 for tip (10%, where it's recommended to tip 5-10%) so the total came out to be about $88.

While we are on a budget (set at $50 per day arbitrarily, total, excluding accommodations), you gotta live sometimes! Also, the USD is pretty good here in Peru, so we can afford to eat well. Also, we HAVE TO eat well here in Peru, where there is apparently a culinary revolution going on. It is our duty. Money pretty well spent for a great experience, which we are happy to share with you.

 

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