Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 8:13 a.m.
Peruvian food is kind of a big deal these days. Ceviche, one of the country's most famous dishes, was once strange and exotic, but now pops up on menus all over the place. From high-end dining establishments on Palm Beach to tiny mom and pop shops, Peruvian influence is everywhere. And it's growing.
Cue Fort Lauderdale's newest Peruvian restaurant: Ceviche by the Sea
. Opened on October 18, the place was well received with busy crowds, going through two seatings on its first Saturday night--also kind of a big deal.
Not that my guest and I really knew what to expect, but we were a bit taken a back by the interior. Sleek modern lighting fixtures, warm sage green walls juxtaposed next to crisp white walls prominently displaying beautiful gold Inca artifacts. Apparently, these are direct copies of the masks found at Machu Picchu. Speaking of which, just past the hostess stand, is a huge photograph of the ancient site itself. Nestled in a shopping center, we did not expect the interior to be as contemporary and well put together.
Being a Peruvian restaurant, the fare is obviously, well, Peruvian. The menu is laced predominantly with seafood specialties: grilled or carpaccio octopus ($15/ $11), tuna skewers ($10), tuna nikkei ($14), mussels and scallops cau-cau ($21). And as the name suggests, the restaurant serves multiple ceviches: classic fish ($13) and mixed seafood ($14) made with the traditional aji amarillo chiles, shrimp and calamari rocoto ($13) made with rocoto chiles.
The menu is slated to change as the restaurant and staff settle in. At the moment, owners Antonio Pardo and Steve Kahn are waiting to see what does and does not work. The final menu should be completed in within the next couple of weeks.
The restaurant's chef is Carlos Delgado. Born in Peru, Delgado has lived stateside since the age of twelve. He attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu
, but went back to Peru to learn more about Peruvian cuisine. While he was there, he attended the Andes Institute. In 2010 he received a Mistura Award--Mistura is one of the largest food festivals in south America--for his quinoa tabouleh.
Not every dish is authentically Peruvian, but everything is inspired by the flavors of Peru. According to General Manager Juan Manuel Moreno, "Peruvian food is all about fusion: Incan, Peruvian, and Japanese. It's a complete fusion of many cultures. We have a little bit of everything."