We recently tried Essencia, the new Peruvian restaurant at Gough and Hayes. We started by sharing a shrimp, scallop, and mussel ceviche and an appetizer of potato fritters and yuca. I was not as excited about the ceviche as my wife, but the fritters were outstanding - light and very tasty, with the yuca as a great side. I had the lomo saltado and she had the lamb. Both were very carefully prepared and very good. I asked for mine medium rare and got thinly sliced meat perfectly cooked, very slightly burned on the outside and rare in the middle. It was as good a meat dish as I have had in some time. It did not, however, remind me of any lomo saltado I have had before, including in Peru. The marinade was very mild and it wasn't the usual stirfry over rice. Instead of wine we had an unusual and very good fruit drink with cinnamon and assorted other flavors, and finished with butter cookies and some excellent Blue Bottle coffee. The service was first rate.
Is this authentic Peruvian? Since the cuisine we tried in Peru was different from lowlands to highlands (guinea pig was a staple in the valleys near Cuzco), I don't know what "authentic" means. The ingredients were good and the cooking was excellent, so I guess that's good enough for me. It was, however, pretty expensive, about $95 for the two of us.
Nice report. Well, it is Cal-Peruvian. Have you tried other Bay Area Peruvian restaurants? What did you like?
I want to make an effort to get over there since Anne Gingrass is one of the principles and I've been waiting for her new place since Desiree closed. I was a big fan of that place. Gingrass also origianlly opened Hawthorne Lane with her then-husband.
Not much on the website yet.
Here was a report on the KQED blog with pictures.
401 Gough St
San Francisco, CA 94102