Cholo’s Cafe.

It has been a quarter of a century (gulp) since I last ate Peruvian food, in the Lima suburb of Miraflores.  We decided to check out the month-old Cholo’s in Dickson.

The dining room is spare but prettily furnished with Andean textiles. Peruvian synth-pop music is playing, thankfully not too loud.

We started with beers and a plate of chips, and pretty stock-standard ones they were too, except they were accompanied by a most curious yellow spicy sauce. I couldn’t tell if it was mustard, chili, horseradish, or some combination. The waitress was unable to enlighten me as to what it consisted of.

The beers were the esoteric Cusqueña and Pilsen labels, perfectly serviceable lagers, although the Cusqueña had a somewhat alarming vegetal aroma.

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The main meal was a shared parrillada, or mixed grill in the South American style. The platter consisted of beef steak, lamb steak, chorizo (hot sausage), morcilla (blood sausage) and anticuchos (chunks of beef heart on a skewer).

I approached the anticuchos with trepidation, since offal is not really my thing. To my shock, they were phenomenal: tender yet chewy with charred edges and enormously beefy flavor. The beef steak and lamb were cooked medium, were nicely marinated and juicy, and not too fatty. The chorizo was sensational. Garishly red-orange and lumpy, it did not present the most appetizing picture but one bite presented a spicy, salty, porky flavor explosion. The blood sausage was…bloody. Crumbly and nearly black, it did not appeal to me, but connoisseurs of such delicacies may disagree. The yuca fries surrounding the meat were crispy and relatively greaseless.

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Accompanying the meats were a trio of condiments: the aforementioned mustard/chili concoction, a greener and herbier/spicier version of the same thing, and a traditional chimichurri. All went well with the meats.

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We couldn’t resist dessert: The Mr. got torta de tres leches, a Latin staple of sponge cake soaked with three milks (condensed, evaporated, and cream). Moist to the point of wetness, as is usual with this cake, it was creamy-sweet and iced with soft meringue. Mr reckoned it was closer in flavor to a pavlova than a tres leches, but that didn’t stop him from polishing the whole thing off.

 

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My dessert was an off-menu special of picarones, described as “Peruvian donuts”. Just so.

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They were accompanied by a cup of cinnamon-flavored honey syrup, and you better believe I snarfed these crunchy beauties down in about ten seconds. I can easily see picarones replacing churros as the trendy Latin fried pastry  of the moment.

The prices at Cholo’s are not inconsiderable: most main dishes approach $30, and the parrillada for two is $65. But this might be your only chance to try some authentic Andean specialties in Canberra, and overall the experience is a pleasant one.

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7 comments

  1. cabrogal

    ARRGGHH!

    I’m on the second day of a highly restricted diet (getting quack-hacked on Friday) and you post THAT!
    As I sit here with my dinner of clear chicken soup only and face down another day of fluids only then one of nil-by-mouth!!!

    Ooh, I’ll have my revenge for this one Sasha.
    When I get my strength back after three days of non-stop eating that is.

      • cabrogal

        I’m asymptomatic – unless you count the effects of the diet and the picoprep – but a scan for another issue earlier this year revealed a ‘mass’ in my transverse colon (I hope they don’t mean they spotted a Catholic priest up there – you can never be too sure with the priests around here).

        I’m not worried about the op – if they mess that up I’ll probably never know about it – but I’m a little anxious about what they might tell me about what they take out. I don’t think they’ll be saying “It’s a boy!”.

        I don’t know why they need to operate at all to be honest. I reckon if I double my dose of picoprep I’ll crap the tumour out – along with everything else between my diaphragm and my arsehole.

      • cabrogal

        There, now wasn’t that far more than you really wanted to know?

        I may not have taken my full revenge on you yet, but I figure your readers going straight from Cholo’s Cafe to my large intestine may find their appetites somewhat diminished.

  2. tarnishedsophia

    That sounds absolutely amazing, Sasha. I’d only eat the appetizers, yuca fries, and desserts…but even that would probably be spectacular. Vegetarian meals are far and few between in South American restaurants, but the bits I can have are *always* worth talking about. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Picky. | Self-Pollution.

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