It genuinely pains me to write this review, but feel compelled to do so, more to forewarn those people like myself who often rely on recommendations by fellow travelers and foodies when choosing were to stay or eat.
It pains me to write this because the proprietors of this restaurant are exceptionally nice and demonstrate a very genuine customer service attitude. From the moment, I and my sons walked through the door, we were warmly greeted and attended to. The experience of being in their restaurant was pleasant because of the owner and his wife. I wish I could say the same about the food.
To be fair, we sampled only a small portion of the menu. I can't comment on the whole menu so at the very least take this disclaimer as a faint endorsement for possibly better experiences with the other dishes on the menu.
I know this food because I grew up in NYC, in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. My dad was Ecuadorian and mom Puerto Rican. So I've been exposed to a wide variety of South American cuisines. Besides this I have traveled extensively to the Caribbean, Central and South America to visit my relatives. So I have had the NYC Latin American food experience and the authentic local country experiences. The meals we ordered here missed the mark on every front. I am genuinely perplexed at the positive reviews here on this web site.... Maybe he had an off night... But I don't think so.
We started with basic Peruvian appetizers. "Salchipapa" and I also ordered a chicken version of the same. I was surprised to see the skins on the fries. It not only soaked more oil, but gave the dish an earthy flavor... The "Salchi" portion of the dish was a sausage usually served in South Texas which completed an unusual mix of undesirable flavors. The chicken version was worse. No flavor, shredded chicken (thigh meat) mixed with greasy potato skin French fries. For the main entree, my sons ordered a Puerto Rican dish, Lechon Asado. It was bland, and greasy, and frankly unpleasant. I ordered a "safe" Peruvian dish. Lomo Saltado, which is basically stir fried beef with French fries and white rice. The beef is usually marinated with a variant of white wine and other Peruvian spices. It is stir fried with red onions, tomatoes, mixed with the French fries and garnished with perejil (cilantro/culantro, depending where you come from). It is then served with steamed white rice. It was outright terrible. The seasoning/ salt was non existent, the potato skin issue also gave the dish an unusual flavor (unpleasant). It was a thorough disappointment, and not nearly an experience I would expect from a chef who was supposedly trained in 4 and 5 star restaurants.
I would never rank this restaurant as high as it is ranked here. Maybe the other dishes are better, I'll give the extremely nice host and chef the benefit of the doubt. But if theses basic misfires are an example of the whole menu, then I'm guessing that the rest isn't much better. I wish it were, because I was looking forward to be a frequent diner to a restaurant that features my favorite cuisine, but, even at the low prices, it's not enough to entice me back.
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