Last week a friend of ours was playing with his band in Astrid & Gastón.
We’ve been lucky enough to have eaten there 3 times before (once in their previous location in Cantuarius), but we couldn’t pass up another opportunity.
Astrid & Gastón is the brainchild of Gastón Acurio, the super famous Peruvian chef and businessman, and Astrid Gutsche, his wife, partner and a pastry chef in her own right. The restaurant is ranked at number 2 out of all of the restaurants in Latin America and is ranked at number 18 in the world. Peruvian restaurants are being ranked higher and higher on an international scale, which for me is a reflection of how good the cuisine is in Peru. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the cuisine has always been good, but over recent years it has been getting the recognition it surely deserves.
Casa Moreyra is an old hacienda which has been lovingly restored to make way for the restaurant now housed inside. The building is absolutely beautiful inside and out.
Outside, there is a garden where the restaurant grows herbs and fruits used in their ever changing menu. They call it ‘El Edén’
But inside we go…..
When you enter up the double staircase you arrive in a long, plant lined terrace leading to different areas of the restaurant.
Sometimes you are greeted with brightly coloured bougainvillea….
….. and sometimes leafy green plants instead. Even the restaurant itself alters with the seasons!
There are 3 areas to choose from when you book to eat in A&G; La Barra, where you eat from the a la carte menu; El Restaurante, where you have the pleasure of the tasting menu; and El Cielo, where you dine as a private party.
On this occasion we were situated in La Barra listening to our friend’s band entertain us with some relaxing, but uptempo, jazz; perfect for this setting. (apologies for the quality of this photo, but it was the only one I had taken of the band! Naughty me!)
The main room in La Barra contains the open faced kitchen, so you are able to watch all the action from the chefs whilst you wait for your food.
I really enjoy sitting in here and seeing the buzz of action from the kitchen. I am yet to sit at the bar, but I would like to because these seats have the best view of the dishes being created!
The ceiling is a little like a conservatory, with a frosted glass roof and plants hanging down, giving a very natural feel to the whole room.
This theme is carried on throughout the space, with neutral colours and beautiful faded wood tables. The facade of the kitchen is made from wooden packing crates, and this recycled look fits so well with the organic feel to La Barra. Simple and neutral but very stylish.
We started with the welcome selection of breads & oil, curried peanuts, and olives.
The curried peanuts are my favourite; sweet but spicy at the same time. The bread comes served in a metal basket, with two types to choose from. The bread varies every time you go, but our selection was a toasted slice of crusty farmhouse bread and a soft warm herby roll, with an incredible flavour.
Gaston’s restaurants never charge corkage so we always buy an amazing bottle of wine, or champagne, to take with us. If you fancy something different, they have a long cocktail list with drinks served in a variety of different ways.
I came with my parents when it first opened and ordered a whisky cocktail, which came with slices of orange laid on a piece of stone. I liked this little touch of something extra.
I’ve also seen cocktails arriving in boxes surrounded by smoke, which I assume comes from dry ice (Look at this picture above. Can you see the waiter bringing it through? It looks like some kind of treasure chest!). There is a cocktail that comes in a picnic basket, and I believe the mojito comes in a tall glass resting in a plant pot. My drink was fantastic and I’m sure the others are too, because they sound incredibly sumptuous, but I’m not sure I would want a drink that came with it’s own basket. A bit much I think, although the people on the surrounding tables seemed to really enjoy it!
The main menu comes in two parts. A sharing, or fuente (this translates as fountain, presumably because there is a lot of food!), section and a normal a la carte menu with individually priced dishes. The sharing section is priced at around S/120 – S/150 and you are given large dishes of food to share with the whole table, whereas the a la carte menu ranges from between S/38 to around S/60 per dish. The prices here completely reflect the quality of the food, however a few of the dishes are a little smaller than you might have hoped, especially dishes like the tiradito. Although if you are a tourist coming from the UK or even the States, you will find the prices so ridiculously cheap compared to restaurants of the same quality back home. You are basically paying high street restaurant prices for fine dining cuisine.
I’ve taken both routes when eating here and to be honest, either way is perfect. If there is a group of you then the sharing dishes may work out better, but you can always order the individual dishes to share and take advantage of a wider variety of things.
We came when A&G first opened in Casa Moreyra and there was 4 of us. We ordered a small tiradito starter of Bonito, which was beautiful, just as a taster with our bread and then chose a dish each to share amongst ourselves, including some of the best ribs I have ever eaten and some excellent mini quinoa burgers.
This time we did something similar and ordered 2 dishes to share between us.
The Chorizo al Sidre (Chorizo in Cider) – Mini chorizos in a cider sauce, with mangetout and little pieces of apple and onion. The flavours were beautiful and blended together perfectly.
The Aeropuerto – a chinese style fried rice with slices of perfectly cooked calamari and neck of beef, mixed in with vegetables. It was topped with an egg and some beansprouts, and was absolutely delicious.
When I came for my birthday last year we ordered the suckling pig to share and it was absolutely gorgeous. It came with apples cooked in different ways and also mini vegetables, all finished off with a delicious gravy style sauce.
So many options!
Obviously dessert is a must and this time we ordered the Chocolate Peruano to share.
A brownie style cake covered in a chocolate sauce with little portions of chocolate mousse served alongside. Sprinkled over the top were tiny pieces of juicy mandarin and thin strips of sugared orange peel. What a combination of flavours.
On a previous visit I have also had the tres leches, which comes beautifully presented sprinkled with flower petals.
But my favourite is the chocolate bomb.
The flavours and filings change with the seasons, so I don’t know what combination will appear on your table if you order it, but it is always served in the same way.
The bomb starts whole in a perfect sphere, then the waiter cracks it open at the table with a spoon to reveal the mixtures of flavours inside.
Look how incredible that is! Like art in dessert!
A chocolate sphere covered in quinoa, filled with sweet treats including tiny slices of cake, tiny meringue pieces, raspberry jelly squares and a nutty sauce spread all around the inside.
Amazing to eat and quite theatrical to watch! The waiter did not believe that we could possibly have the whole dessert between just the two of us, but I don’t think he knew who he was dealing with. We polished the whole plate off with ease.
I always have a great time when I come to eat here. The food is amazing, and the atmosphere is so relaxed, which is not what you always find with top class restaurants. Everyone is welcome, and Astrid herself is normally there greeting each table.
As a tourist, a visit here is a must-do when you arrive in Lima!! And if you live here, it is a great place to come for a special occasion or just when you fancy treating yourself to a giant sphere of chocolate!
Astrid & Gaston – Av. Paz Soldán 290, San Isidro