Central restaurant in Barranco, Lima
Liz’s review: Edible Art
How I experienced The EXPERIENCE
Eating at Central was definitely the highlight of our week when Jackie was in Lima, also of the 3 months I spent there. When we entered the restaurant there was a table laid out with root looking objects, spices, and ground up natural ingredients used to give coloring to some of the dishes.
All the waiters spoke English and no doubt several other languages as well, since they have an international clientele. However, the young woman manning this table explaining how these substances contributed to the tasting menu, was impossible to understand, so we ended up looking serious and nodding and interjecting an occasional, “oh”.
The photos are of our actual meal. Most of what you’re seeing is ‘presentation’. The taste or tastes were lying on flowers, lava, piranha, shells, as you can see.
The actual Taste never remotely resembled the ingredients that were in it. For instance a root vegetable of some sort wasn’t cooked and given to you in it’s natural form. It was processed along with other natural ingredients and became a new creation, the likes of which I had never seen, thought of, imagined or tasted.
Oh, and the dish that looks like a cappuccino. It’s not. It was a frothy creation over a pork-based creation
The photos I took of corn and something that looks like a root vegetable were brought to our table along with the dish we would be tasting, to add color and depth to the experience of that taste and because the Taste did contain that ingredient in part.
Both the review below and the video at the end of this post mention that there are 17 courses, however there were only 16 at the time we dined there. Not sure one would notice the difference since we left after 3 hours, well-satisfied.
The new taste sensations affected me on a visceral level. On several occasions I would bite into something, chew, swallow and then about that time, a sensation hit my brain and my body would sort of jerk and I would emit a moaning sound. So Jackie got ‘entertainment’ as well as a wonderful eating experience.
This was the first time that I had what I would consider a true Once in a Lifetime EXPERIENCE.
excerpts from, WHAT ITS LIKE TO EAT AT A WORLD FAMOUS RESTAURANT by Nick O’Malley
The big draw is the 17-course tasting menu, which focuses on ingredients gathered from all around Peru -- particularly at different elevations. The courses each highlight ingredients from a specific elevation, from mussels and seaweed gathered below sea level to edible clay gathered 3,700 meters up in the Andes Mountains.
They put so much emphasis on the ingredients that the restaurant even has all the ingredients (well, the dry ones) on the menu out on a cool display table, where you can handle all the different grains and tubers that they use.
“I don't know if this dish was good”, but it was definitely another experience where I got my socks knocked off by flavors that I didn't know existed.
The meal at Central was more than just a delicious experience. It gave me a window into a world where the dimensions of "taste" and "flavor" stretched far beyond where I thought the boundaries lay.
What's more: It did so with ingredients I'd never heard of, or ever really comprehended.
Tasting the food at Central was like witnessing the most intense 30 seconds rock music you've heard in your entire life, played by a band featuring a banjo, harp and two instruments you've never seen before but pretty sure have been dragged out of the woods.
Check out Virgilio Martinez, owner/chef/creator on Netflix, Top Chef, Volume 3.