Saturday, May 23, 2015


I love living in an area with a very active culinary scene, there's always something new to try.  I was happy to find out that a new restaurant, Sink/Swim, had opened in my neighborhood, within easy walking distance, while I was vacationing in Peru, so I made a point to check them out when I was unpacked and resettled in the routine of regular life.  The exterior of the restaurant is white painted cinder block with a large front window.  The sign Sink|Swim is painted simply on the upper right corner of the restaurant in black lettering.  The dining room is narrow and deep with a long bar along one wall.  The walls are white painted brick with paintings of men that look like old sea captains and there is a composite floor.  There are blue padded leather booths along the wall opposite the bar (which has blue seats) and a lot of design elements that wave back to their seafood shack origins.  The menu was divided into Snacks, Cold Appetizers, Warm Appetizers, Entrees, and Dessert.  I didn't sample from the Snacks, but I did try something from every other section.  I started with the Beef and Oyster Tartare with Malt Chips, Caramelized Shallots, and Horseradish.  I like beef tartare, but I had never had it with oysters.  The combination was ground more coarsely, and had a nice crunch with the malt chips mixed in.  The horseradish and the shallots went well with the combination with the horseradish providing a nasal clearing burn and the shallots adding a sweet finish.
My warm appetizer really reminded me of Peru.  Not because it was something I had, but because it seemed to have been something I could have very easily had in Peru.  It was called Seaweed and Potatoes and consisted of Boiled Potatoes with Dried Seaweed, Pecorino Cheese, and Seaweed Butter.  Potatoes are a major product in Peru and I had potatoes many times.  Seafood is also a large staple in Peruvian cuisine.  I never saw anything like this when I was in Peru, but it does seem to be something that could easily be done and sold in Peru.  The potatoes were tender with a nice buttery and cheesy flavor and the seaweed added a light crunch with a salty vegetal flavor.  The flavors were simple and it looked like something that could be done easily, but this was done exceptionally well.
While I had never had my entree elsewhere, it also had some familiarity to me.  It reminded me of something that could easily fit on the menu of Nico Osteria.  It actually seemed to be a variation on something I had had at Nico Osteria.  I had Spaghettone, which was Spaghetti with Clams, Dashi, Pepper, Pecorino Cheese, and Onion Brulee.  There was spaghetti on the menu at Nico, but it didn't have clams.  The pasta that had clams, Paccheri, also had sausage though, so it was a different dish despite the similarities.  The spaghetti was al dente, there were plenty of clams and cheese, and the onion brulee added a nice onion flavor with a crisp sweetness.  The dashi provided a savory finish.  Despite the fact that I liked this dish and thought that it had a lot of good flavor, I would have preferred, if possible (it really wasn't), not to have to eat around the clam shells.
For dessert, I had more Pecorino, this time in cake form.  With the Pecorino Cake was Whipped Honey, Red Grapefruit, Pistachios, and Cappelletti (an Italian Amaro).  The Pecorino cake was a little more dry than a standard cheesecake is, and a little more savory, but the sweetness was provided by the honey and, to a lesser extent, the red grapefruit.  The grapefruit also provided a little bitterness, which paired well with the cappellitti which was mixed into a sauce with the honey.  The cake was then well covered with the pistachios which provided a savory nuttiness.  While I like dessert, and this dessert was good, for this meal, it was probably the least part of it.

I like Sink|Swim and think that it's a good addition to the neighborhood.  My meal was good and the service was friendly and helpful and I can easily see myself returning.  


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Restaurante Central

In my planning to go to to Peru and Astrid y Gaston, I happened to notice that there was another great restaurant in Lima called Central Restaurante.  When I first started looking, Astrid y Gaston was rated much more highly than Central.  Astrid y Gaston was rated the 16th best restaurant in the world by The World's 50 Best Restaurants and Central was rated 50th, but by the time we went, Central had made a rapid rise on the charts to 15th and Astrid y Gaston had fallen to 18th (which is still great).  Despite this, I didn't plan on going to Central until we found out on the day after we went to Astrid y Gaston that we were staying on the same block where Central was located.  We didn't notice it the several times that we walked by it, so when I found out that we were as close as we were, I had to find it and decided that since we were as close as we were, that it would be a shame not to at least try to go.  The building in which Central Restaurante is located looked like any other house/apartment on the block with the exception of the very solid looking double door at the entrance and a small plaque in the sidewalk indicating that it was Central as well as the year 2008 which I had guessed was the year that it first opened.  Further research revealed that the restaurant didn't open until 2013, so I really have no idea what the 2008 meant.  Inside the formidable doors is the host station with the reservation book.  After checking in, we were guided to the main dining room behind another set of heavy double doors.  The room was done in a color scheme of greens and browns and had a banquette along one wall where we were seated as well as several round four tops in the center of the room.  The room was lit by natural light from skylights and a glass inner wall that looked into the kitchen on the other side of a narrow courtyard which was used to set the dishes up for delivery to the diners.  Through the window, we could see the chef, Virgilio Martinez, working at the front of the kitchen.
As dining here was not really planned, we decided to dine a la carte and go for non-alcoholic beverages.  They had a pretty good selection of non-alcoholic beverages, so it wasn't really an issue.  I ordered a Lemon Verbena drink with Key Limes and regular Limes.  It was carbonated, sour, and surprisingly green.  It had a flavor similar to lemonade although it was more herbal.  The other drink that we ordered was a Passionfruit Soda with Passionfruit, Tumbo (Banana Passionfruit), and Muña Mint (Andean Mint, used for it's medicinal properties).
We looked at the menu, made our orders, and while we were waiting, a bread plate was brought out.  It was actually three bread plates with three very different breads presented with two butters.  Our first bread was a small and pre-sliced loaf of Coca Bread with a greenish cast to it.  The bread was made with coca and reminded me, like the raw coca leaves that I had tried, of asparagus.  It had a crusty exterior and a soft interior like many good, homemade breads.  The other breads were presented as muffins.  The first being a Fruit Bread and the other a Potato Bread.  They both tasted very good, but the potato bread was softer.  The butter that was presented with the bread was also housemade, one standard butter and one smoked.  I preferred the smoked on the potato and the coca breads and the standard butter went better with the fruit bread.

Our appetizers were brought out by the chef who introduced himself and wished us a good meal.  I found this highly unusual, but I didn't mind, because it said to me that the chef was paying attention to our table and that we would have a great meal.  I am not sure why he did this, because after paying attention after that, I noticed that our table was the only one that got this special treatment.  I oredered the Charred Purple Corn Scented Octopus with Lentils, Botija Olives, and Tree Tomato.  It was a great presentation and tasted really good as well.  The octopus was cooked perfectly and went well with the lentils.  The olives were presented as dots of tapenade on the side and while I generally don't care for olives, it did did go well with the octopus and lentils.  The other appetizer was called Harvest of Scallops and in addition to the Scallops, it had Limo Chili Milk (a spicy ceviche sauce), Rocoto (pepper),  Sweet Root, Wildflower, Conch, and Caviar.
While we were eating our appetizers, a small course, unannounced and unordered was presented to us.  It was a simple plate of Glazed Sweet Potatoes which were presented on a stone.  They were sweet, simple, and satisfying, and it was a nice presentation.
For our entrees, I ordered Roasted Grouper with Black Quinoa.  A separate copper pan with Native Potatoes, Calamari, Squid Ink, and Peas was presented on the side.  The grouper was very tender and flavorful with a slightly crisp outside.  The black quinoa added a nutty and crunchy flavor.  I wouldn't have thought that calamari and mashed potatoes would go together, but surprisingly, it went together well.  When the other dish came, I wondered why I had ordered fish.  It was a  21 Day Aged Suckling Pig with Arracacha (South American Root Vegetable between Celery and Carrot) which was served on the side, Borage (Starflower), and Pickled Vegetables.  It looked really good and I was told that it tasted even better.  I did try it and did like it, but I couldn't really make an opinion with one bite.
While we were eating our entrees, our second unannounced and unordered course showed up and while it was very nice to look at, it was a bit more difficult to eat.  It was a place of thinly sliced hot peppers of various colors.  I did try several and determined that they all seemed to be hot peppers, the purple one was kind of sneaky because it started tasting like an onion and the heat didn't hit until I swallowed.  While the plate looked very nice, we were unable to finish this.

Finally, it came time for dessert.  I ordered Desert Huarangos (White Carob) with Peanuts, Palo Blanco Cacao (Cacao from the Palo Blanco region of Peru, an oasis area in the coastal desert) presented as ice cream, Lucuma (a subtropical fruit native to Peru also called eggfruit  for the dry flesh of the fruit similar in texture to a hardboiled egg yolk.  It has a flavor similar to maple and sweet potato), and Citrus Leaf.  It was rich, sweet, and very flavorful.  The other dessert was called Cacao Forest and it started with a scoop of Chocolate Ice Cream from the El Shunte region of Peru (in the Amazon) with Arcilla Clay, Yuyo Flower, Muña Mint which were powders to be combined with the chocolate.  The clay made the ice cream more smooth, the yuyo flower added some richness, and the mint was a digestive aid.  It apparently tasted good and interesting (as well as being very creative).  It seems to be a twist on quechua food.
While we were eating dessert, a small glass of very thick White Cappuccino came out for the Cacao Forest.  I assume to finish the dish.  It was very thick and tasted very creamy.

After the dessert in a fine dining restaurant and while the bill is being settled, many restaurants will bring out petit fours.  This was the case here as well, except that we were brought three plates of petit fours.  We were first presented with homemade marshmallows, we then received two different types of gelee, a Pisco Gelee and a Hazelnut Gelee, and we finished with chocolate.  All of the Petit fours tasted very good.  The texture of the chocolate took us aback a little bit because it looked similar to a scrubbing cloth, but it tasted very good.

The food and service at Central were very good and I am very glad that we were able to make it there.  The food was innovative and tasted good and used many ingredients with which I was unfamiliar, but I really enjoyed it.  I cannot say though, whether I enjoyed Central better than Astrid y Gaston because when you get into the rarified atmosphere occupied by these two restaurants, everything should be fantastic, which it was.                

Saturday, May 16, 2015


It would seem, after the amazing dinner that we had at Astrid y Gaston, that everything else would be rather anti-climactic.  We did however, come across several articles/TV shows mentioning s restaurant in Lima that focused on Amazon cuisine.  This sounded really interesting and while there may have been a few things on the Astrid y Gaston menu that may have come from the Amazon region, it was not explicitly focused there.  This restaurant was called ámaZ and we decided that it was a place we were interested in trying out.  It helped that we happened to wander past the place when we were exploring near our apartment, so we made a reservation and went the following evening.  The place is located in an office building and there is just a sign in the window, so it was kind of a wonder that we noticed it.  The dining area comprises two levels, the lower level, where the entrance is located has tile floors and turquoise walls with banquette seating and a bar in the center of the room with hanging lights over it.  The upper dining room very much had a jungle hut motif.  It had wooden floors and round booths around the edges with wicker "roofs".  The round tables in the center of the room used black lounge chairs around inlaid wooden tables.  The menu had a lot of stuff that looked potentially interesting, it took a little bit of time to decide what we wanted to order.  I say what we wanted to order, because everything on the menu was designed for two or four people.  An odd numbered party would have to plan accordingly and a single diner would be eating a lot or bringing something home.  We started things out with Giant Amazon Snails which were sliced up, mixed with Chorizo and Quinoa with a Camu Camu Sauce (Camu Camu is an Amazonian fruit plant similar to Guavaberry), and returned to their shells, which were about the size of my fist.  We were given wooden spoons with which to eat the mixture.  The snail was cooked perfectly and was very tender and had a very savory taste with spice provided by the chorizo.  It was unusual and very good.
We then proceeded to a Jar of Pickles.  What this means in a lot of finer restaurants is a jar of mixed pickled vegetables and possibly fruit (which this one had).  The jar contained Starfruit, Red and Green Peppers, Onions, and Potatoes and used a sweet and sour pickling liquid similar to that used with sweet pickles.  I like pickled vegetables and this was a plus because it had the starfruit, which I had never had.
For our main course, we had Barbecued Ham with Fried and Mashed Plantains and a Side Salsa of Red Peppers and Onions.  This was a fairly simple course, but it was good.  The ham was well cooked and the barbecue was both sweet and spicy.  The plantains reminded me of slightly sweet mashed potatoes and the salsa provided some textural variety with a nice crunch and some spiciness.
We also got a side of Turmeric Rice with Brazil Nuts.  This was also very simple but very flavorful and good.  The turmeric provided a light mustard/curry flavor and the Brazil nuts added crunch.
While everything up to this point was really good and we enjoyed it a lot, dessert was something else.  It was called a Jungle of Chocolate and was served in a cacao bean shell.  It had an amazing variety of textures and colors and started with a very creamy Chocolate Mousse on the bottom with Albaquilla Sponge Cake (an Amazonian Basil), Cilantro Meringue, Cocona (an Amazonian fruit with a flavor between a lemon and a tomato), Bitter Orange, and Macambo (White Cacao, a lesser cousin of the Cacao tree that grows in the Amazon).

Dinner at ámaZ was amazing even if it was slightly annoying to have to coordinate with someone else what we would order.  The flavors were great and I definitely had several things that I have never had before and likely may never be able to have again.  I would happily recommend this to others and would happily return if I were to be in Lima again. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gaston Acurio: Tanta and Astrid y Gaston, Part 2

In my last post I had talked about Gaston Acurio, his cafe, Tanta in Larcomar, and the beginning of dinner at his flagship restaurant, Astrid y Gaston.  As I mentioned, the dinner was about our memories and the dining room was designed to evoke childhood memories.  As the dinner was 28 courses, it would be difficult to talk about every single course individually, so I will talk about them in the "acts" in which they were presented.  I will say though that all of the dishes were very different and creative and that I had several things that I had never encountered before.  The first act that we were presented was Sweets After School which were presented in one container that was similar to a cookie tin.  We were instructed to start with the Barquillos, the thin and delicate biscuit rolls, that were served with a Lemon, Basil, Strawberry, Rocoto Pepper, and Yogurt spread that we were to eat with it (lower picture).  We then proceeded to the Ice Cream which was a small sugar cone filled with Lucuma flavored Ice Cream (Lucuma is a South American fruit with a dry flesh and a flavor similar to Sweet Potatoes and Maple) and topped with Chocolate-covered Chestnuts.  Next were the Camotitos, crunchy wafer cookies of Ginger and Chicken Skin, the Meringue Kisses made, surprisingly, with Black Botija Olives and Anchovies, and finally, the Charada made with Prawns rolled in Peanuts.  While they all looked like sweet treats and there was some sweetness to them, they were not exceptionally sweet, but they were creative, provided a wide variety of textures and flavors and tasted good.

The next act was presented in 3 courses and were about Home Memories.  There were three courses presented individually.  We were first presented with a large Ice Cube filled with Medlar Juice (a Medlar is an Asian Fruit that is hard until it has been frozen which causes it to soften).  The dish was called Garden Fruits tasted very much like lemonade.  Our next course was called Mama's Patita which was presented on a tripod and consisted of Ground and Roasted Pig Trotters with Mustard and Cress.  And finally, Grandma's Torrejita which was like a small, warm Tortilla with Chickpeas, White Asparagus, and Caviar.
For the next act, we remembered A Summer at the Beach and were served Raspadillas, a dish of Shaved Ice.  This Shaved Ice was a combination Vegetable Ice, Syrups, and Fruits and Herbs from their gardens (which are in the front of the restaurant).

The next memories were of Products That Are Leaving Us and there were two courses.  The first course was a Frozen Delicia Apple which was thinly sliced and presented as a Ceviche with a Leche de Tigre of Rocoto,  Sea Urchin, and Borage (the small flowers).  The second course was called That Pink Clam Chowder which was kind of funny actually, because it was neither pink nor contained clams.  It contained Fake Pink Clams made from Pacae (Ice Cream Bean, a legume native to South America that produces an edible and sweet white pulp), Spicy Seafood Broth, Fava Beans, and Creamy Potatoes.
We then had a couple of dishes representing Recipes That Are Leaving Us.  We started with Memories of a Shrimp Ocopa which was a dish that looked and tasted like a shrimp stew.  It consisted of Shrimp Tails, Shrimp Essence Oil, Roasted Peanuts, Garlic, Roasted Onion Broth, Mirasol Pepper, Nuts, and Huacatay (a Marigold plant native to southern South America whose leaves are dried for seasoning and also known as Black Mint Paste).  The second dish of this group was the Escabeche of Cojinova (Escabeche is a dish similar to Ceviche except that the fish, in this case Cojinova or Palm Ruff, is poached first).  This was one of my favorite dishes.  It also used Lightly Smoked Marinade Oil, Onions, Tomatoes, and Aji Peppers.
The next act was about Going Back Home and for this course we were presented with an Homage to Mashed Potatoes with Fried Egg.  Potatoes are very much a staple in Peru with over 3000 varieties grown, so I was not at all surprised to see a dish based on potatoes.  The dish consisted of Chaulina Potato Cream, Chicken Jus, Dried Tomatoes and Porcini, Fried Quail Eggs, Tomato Powder and Spinich.  I wish I had been a little better with the focus on this dish.  Suffice it to say that it looked as good as it sounded and tasted just as well.

The next act contained three courses and was about Regional Longing.  With these courses, we got into the final savory courses.  We started with Between a Potato Ajiaco (a hearty potato stew with beef) and a Tongue which contained Semi-Dried Native Potatoes, Fresh Cream Cheese, Onion, Roasted Yellow Aji Pepper, and Beef Tongue.  We then went to Rabbit Pachamanca (the rabbit is baked with spices using hot stones) made with Rabbit Loin and Liver, Corn and Garlic Cream, Oca (Sweet Potatoes) and Olluco (a South American plant grown primarily as a tuber, but secondarily as a leaf vegetable).  We finished this act with an Homage to Shambar (a traditional Peruvian soup typically containing three types of meat, beans, and spices.  This version had Brisket, Pork Rib Broth, Bean Germs, and Peppermint Sprouts.

The last several acts covered the wide variety of desserts we were served.  The first set were called Children's Pranks and were presented in four courses.  We started with The Tasty Banana and Cheese with an Isla Banana, Spices, Caramel, and Pisco, Crumbs of Paria Cheese (a semi-hard cheese with wrinkled skin), Arugula, and Black Pepper.  We then remembered Pomegranate Wars During the Break which was a Pomegranate Bombe (ice cream frozen into a spherical mold), after which we remembered Strawberries and Milk which was a Strawberry Gelee and a Strawberry Flavored Condensed Milk Ball and finished with U-Alianza, an Homage to Mazamorra Morada (a Peruvian Purple Corn Pudding) and Arroz Con Leche (Rice Pudding).
The next act which consisted of two courses was a bit whimsical and was called Sweet Memory.  It started with Lima Blanquillos (I am not exactly sure where the name came from because blanquillo is synonymous with huevo, which is egg.  Blanquillo though, has a rather derogatory negative slang meaning).  The dish consisted of Apricots cooked with Chamomile, Almond Cake, and Apricot Kernel Ice Cream.  The second dish was called Why is it Called King Kong?  It consisted of a Quince Compote (Cotton Candy), Peanut Jelly, Herb Soup, and Flower Ice Cream.

We finished Lost Flavors.  Which was an act in two courses.  We started with a Real Chocolate Bar with Peanut Cocada (the coconut bark cookie).  The chocolate was a little on the dark side but it was very good.  Eating it together with the cocada though, was like eating a deconstructed Mounds Bar.  The last course was a little strange.  It was called an Emoliente in Two Temperatures.  An Emoliente is an herbal tea and the flute we were presented with had a leaf in it to start.  The server then poured a different liquid into each side and pulled the leaf out.  The liquids were not only two temperatures, but two colors and two consistensies as well.  We were to drink the drinks side by side to get both flavors at once (The flavors were different as well).

Dinner at Astrid y Gaston was an amazing experience and while I am sure I didn't do justice to the individual courses, I was very happy that I had the opportunity to experience this.  If I return to Lima, this is a place that I would try again as well as some of Gaston Acurio's other restaurants. 



Sunday, May 10, 2015

Gaston Acurio - Tanta and Astrid y Gaston, part 1

Before I travel somewhere, one of the first things I do is to look at what good restaurants, I might have the opportunity to try there.  When I first thought about traveling to Peru, I looked, and quickly discovered Astrid y Gaston.  It was listed as one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World, but I wanted to find out what it was about.  In my investigation, I learned about Chef/Restauranteur Gaston Acurio.  His history really interested me and his restaurant aims convinced me that Astrid y Gaston was a restaurant that I really wanted to go through.  The son of a politician, Gaston, first went to Law School thinking that he would follow in his father's footsteps, but he discovered that he really didn't want to be a lawyer and went to Paris, where he went to culinary school.  He met his wife in Paris and they returned to Lima in 1994 where he decided to apply his acquired fine dining skill to Peruvian food and try to introduce the world to Peruvian cuisine.  Through the years, Gaston Acurio has opened about 40 restaurants in several countries including the United States (La Mar in Miami, San Francisco, and San Diego, and Tanta in Chicago).  I had been to Tanta in Chicago and found that Peruvian cuisine was a fusion of various influences and it really interested me so, when plans for a trip to Peru started happening, I knew that Astrid & Gaston had to be on the list of places to visit.  We made plans to do an organized tour, but also to spend several days in Lima after the tour ended, so we would have a chance to explore things at a more leisurely pace and to see things that we might want to see on our own.  Looking at our schedule and what day might work to go to Astrid y Gaston, we found that our best day to go was going to be on the day our tour ended so that is when I made the reservation.  We left our tour hotel and settled into our apartment in the morning and our reservation wasn't until the evening so we decided to explore.  We were fairly close to the coast, which was a cliff and there was a mall, Larcomar, built into the cliff.  It was a place recommended while we were on the tour so we decided to check it out.  It was a very nice mall with a lot of high end stores, but what makes me mention it is that Gaston Acurio's Cafe Restaurant, Tanta, was located there.  As it was lunch time and we had not eaten yet, we decided to stop there for lunch and use it as kind of a preview for Astrid y Gaston.  I will start out by saying that Tanta Larcomar and Tanta Chicago have very little in common except that they serve Peruvian food.  Tanta Larcomar is very brightly colored, using a lot of reds and yellows in their color scheme.  It reminds me of a restaurant/bar that you might find on the beach which is appropriate.  It actually has two levels, the main level which is primarily bar and patio with a red and yellow canvas tent roof.  The interior of the restaurant is on the side of the cliff and you actually have to go down from the main level to get to it.  The outer walls were windows overlooking the ocean and allowing for a lot of light.  While the place looked relatively casual, the waiters were dressed very professionally with black pants, bright blue shirts (with a Tanta logo) and ties.  The place looked very friendly and casual and the menu looked very good, but as we were going to be having a 29 course meal for dinner, we thought it a good idea possibly, to take it easily and eat lightly.  After ordering and seeing other people's orders come out, we determined that that was not going to really be possible.  I started things out with Tiraditos Dos Cremas.  I knew from having it earlier that tiraditos is a dish of raw fish or seafood prepared similarly to ceviche and it sounded good.  This Tiradito was prepared with Corvina, a Drum Fish native to the Southeastern Pacific, and two sauces, Aji Amarilla (yellow pepper) and Rocoto (Red Pepper).    The Corvina was very thinly sliced and covered in the sauce, so when the plate came, it looked at first as it if I was getting a plate of sauces divided by garnishes (Sweet Potatoes, Peruvian Corn, and Red Peppers).  I had to stab my fork into the sauce to find that the plate was actually covered with fish before the sauces and garnish went on.  The corvina was very tender and tasty and went very well with both sauces.  The sauces also use a lot of lime juice so they were both pretty sour.  Of the two sauces, I would have expected the red to be spicier, but it was actually the yellow that was more spicy.
For my main course, I went with a Roast Pork Sandwich with Vegetables with a side of French Fries all served with a Yellow Pepper Sauce.  The vegetables were fresh and crisp, the pork was thinly sliced and the French bread that it was served on was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside like good French Bread is supposed to be.  The way the flavors and textures came together, this really reminded me of a Banh Mi and I really liked it.
My dining partner had a Chauffa, a Peruvian Chinese (Chifa) dish of Fried Rice and Potatoes with Shrimp, Onions, Corn, and Beef.  While it was similar to Chinese Stir Fries that I was familiar with, it very definitely had a Peruvian bent to it with the potatoes and the sauce.  Everything tasted very fresh and it tasted very good.

While some of the desserts that we saw looked very good, we really wanted to have room for dinner that night so we waived dessert.  The food and service here were very good and I would happily return. but on this trip we had other hills to climb.

We arrived a little early for service at Astrid y Gaston that evening and were told we could sit at a high top outside the restaurant which was part of the attached bar.  The place was actually an old Spanish-style farmhouse and was enormous.  There were actually herb gardens and green houses in the front that I would have investigated further had I been able to see better, it was night after all.  When we were first seated inside the restaurant, we were seated at low love seats with a low table and a round light between us.  We had a view overlooking an inner courtyard and a kitchen which was great, but my first thought was that if we were going to be sitting here for an extended time, it could get uncomfortable.
We were told that the theme for tonight's dinner would be Things We Remember.  Our first course was then served which consisted of a Sparkling Cocktail, Guinda de Huaura, a drink containing some Sparkling Wine and Morello Cherries, and some Pate Finger Sandwiches.  The drink was very bright and flavorful and the sandwiches were delicate and flavorful.  It was a great start and I was excited to see where we might go next.

Where we went next actually was on a tour of one of the restaurant's five kitchens before being seated inside in one of the interior dining rooms which was decidedly more comfortable.  The room had tall ceilings and several round tables with comfortable chairs.  The windows were curtained and there was a tall bookshelf with knickknacks and shelved mirrors on either sides.  There were also several paintings in the room that were seemed meant to evoke memories of childhood.

Such was the start of our dinner.  To be continued in part 2.