As I mentioned in this post, we have two weeks here in Lima called Lima Food Week. This is when around 25 restaurants offer a set menu of 3 courses for lunch (S/59) or dinner (S/79) to showcase what their restaurant has to offer to the people of Lima.
On of these restaurants is La Nacional.
Don’t you just love their logo!
Established as a deli in 1821, La Nacional has become a fully fledged restaurant. Located on La Mar, it has a prime location to attract foodies which head down the famous avenue looking for good food. And good food…no, wait,… fantastic food is what I found,
I went into La Nacional with no expectations and they absolutely wowed me.
It’s not a huge restaurant. There are some tables running alongside the bar, which then opens out into the restaurant (with the kitchen at the end) and then a terrace to the side.
But they do say that good things come in small packages.
I love the decor. It’s modern and stylish but with some quirky accents…
…like these plates haha!
Now for the food!
With their menu for Lima Food Week, you have 3 options for the starter, main course and dessert, and you need to pick just one.
It’s pretty difficult as they all sound very tasty, but we managed it and were so happy with the choices we made.
Drinks are not included in the set menu price and they charge S/40 corkage (no wine for us today!), so we decided on starting with pisco sours. Maracuya (passionfruit) for him and fresa (strawberry) for me.
Both were great pisco sours; the maracuya had a perfect balance of the sweet and sour that you expect, and the fresa was perfectly sweet enough for me. My boyfriend always requests his pisco sour with the minimal amount of egg white to reduce the amount of froth, and sometimes restaurants seem to struggle with this, but La Nacional had no problem with his preference, which kept him very happy!
I mentioned in my last post that restaurants can be really bad at giving filtered tap water when you ask for it. However, here in La Nacional, our water was served to us as soon as it was ordered. No need to ask twice.
We were given a board of herby, focaccia style bread with a garlic mayonnaise whilst we waited, and also a piece of pastel de choclo (corn cake), all of which were absolutely scrumptious. Did I mention I love bread?
// STARTERS //
Anticuchos de corazon ‘Angus’ (Angus beef heart skewers) with crispy yellow potatoes and a corn salsa.
The anticuchos were perfectly cooked, the potatoes were crisp on the outside but fluffy inside (just like a good chip or roast should be) and the salsa was a perfect accompaniment (large corn & chunks of cheese combined in a yellow chilli sauce with just a slight kick).
‘Burrata Nacional’ with grilled asparagus and cherry tomatoes.
Burrata Nacional was a big chunk of mozzarella, but like no other mozzarella I have ever tried before. It was perfectly smooth on the outside, as you would expect, sprinkled with pink peppercorns, but when you broke the skin the cheese had the appearance of cottage cheese compared with the smoothness of the outside. Now, I hate cottage cheese, but this tasted nothing like that. It was salty, but not too overpowering, and it went perfectly with the fresh veggies and the salted and herbed cracker crisp breads that came with it.
// MAIN DISHES //
Sweet potato gnocchi in a huancaina sauce (slightly spiced yellow chilli and cheese sauce) topped with little pieces of olives (which I picked out….) and chunks of queso (cheese) paria.
These were some of the best gnocchi, sweet potato or otherwise, I had ever eaten. No lie. Big, soft bites of sweet gnocchi, slathered in a creamy huancaina sauce. What could be better comfort food than that? I can imagine in the winter being tucked up under a blanket eating way too much of this! It may look like a small portion, but with 3 courses plus bread, you really don’t need anymore than this!
Tagliatelle a la puttanesca (finely chopped vegetables and normally pancetta too) with chimichurri, limo chilli and olives.
The tagliatelle was beautiful and packed full of flavour from all of the veggies, the garlic-y chimichurri, the chilli and the olives. This is a great spring/summer dish because it is light and fresh, and pasta has this way of being a fantastic base to showcase a wide range of flavours. I could have eaten about 3 bowls of this! Of course it was sprinkled with a generous portion of parmesan…
After the mains we took a little breather and ordered some more drinks. He tried the strawberry pisco sour and I went for one of their cocktails the ‘Tropical Lima’.
It came in an absolutely giant glass and smelled divine. The star anise resting on top of the ice filled the glass, and the drink, with the most incredible aroma. The drink itself mainly consisted of Destilado Chanchamayo (a spirit of oranges), lime and anis (an aniseed spirit), served over ice and topped with the three star anise.
So refreshing and so fruity. A great summer cocktail and there was a lot of it!
Before dessert I had a little wander to look at their terrace where you can also choose to dine, or you can just lounge on their couches and have a cocktail or two…or three…
But I couldn’t hold off the dessert much longer!!
// DESSERT //
We both had the same this time, maybe because it was the only dessert with chocolate in it….
A chocolate brownie topped with a chocolate mousse served with a fried dough spiral, cream and a strawberry.
I loved this dessert.
Firstly, the brownie was actually a brownie. I have so much trouble finding good brownies that aren’t just a soft cake. Brownies should be dense and fudgy and oh so chocolate-y. Maybe there is something going on down Avenida La Mar that no one else knows about, because first El Pan de la Chola gives me great brownies and now La Nacional! These were stunning brownies.
The brownies were topped with a soft and sweet, but slightly bitter (how I like it) chocolate mousse. This mousse was actually perfect for the brownie because although both gave a full-on chocolate flavour, the textures were so different and the mousse so light that it didn’t feel overly rich.
And the spirals of fried dough? They literally reminded me of that glorious smell of freshly cooked doughnuts at the fair tossed in sugar. What memories. This little spirals were not flavoured, but instead these crisp morsels were dusted with icing sugar (powdered sugar if you’re American!) and dipped in a manjar blanco at the bottom. So light and airy with just a touch of sweetness, and they were a perfect vessel for that chocolate mousse too!
I finished feeling extremely full but extremely satisfied. I will definitely be returning here to try more and more from their menu.
Not only was the food undeniably tasty and beautifully presented, but the staff gave us excellent service from beginning to end. You really feel important and well looked after.
Lima Food Week carries on until the 29th March so book your table quickly! You wouldn’t want to miss out!
La Nacional – Av. La Mar 1254, Miraflores.
They have valet parking so no need to worry about finding a spot to park.