What's Up with Rinconcito Peruano (Ninth Ave. 53/54 Sts.)
Rinconcito Peruano is an old favorite of mine, but it had been too long since I've been there. I went with a small group tonight and it was a schizophrenic experience. Is the restaurant under new ownership? There is definitely a different cook in the kitchen.
The menu has been updated and slightly expanded, prices have gone up noticeably, and wine, beer, and sangria are being actively pushed.
Dinner started out gangbusters. The fried calamari, always a strong point, was outstanding, replete with red onions, yucca, corn nuts, and the fantastic hot sauce on the side.
But the entrees fared less well. The aji de gallina was good, but the chaufa was bland and my tallarin saltado was devoid of any discernible taste, with green onions substitued for the usual red onions. I only ate a few bites of my saltado, and dived into the never-ending supply of calamar.
Were the entrees just an aberration? It's hard to believe the same kitchen that sent out the sublime calamari also issued the saltado and chaufa.
And is Rinconcito Peruano still offering the wonderful lunch specials? Sadly, the restaurant had run out of soup (or never made any), run out of tamals, etc. We were the only customers in the place from 7:45-9:00 P.M.
I had lunch couple of months ago. It was the "comida corriente" kind of deal. The menu was: lentil soup, beans, rice and beef. And pinapple chicha. I don't think I had consumed so many beans in one meal ever. Definitively not a highlight lunch, but it really helped move my Latin American nostalgia.
Went later on for dinner, and the place smelled so terribly to B.O. that we had to leave. I am usually not too picky about this things, but it was impossible to stay. Too bad!
What sounded like a bad night may have been the beginning of the end. Menupages now lists the place as closed. The number's been changed. I called the new number (718-847-5893), to see if maybe they'd moved to Queens or something, but got no answer a few minutes ago.