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Peruvian in Coral Gables...what to choose?

yomyb Jul 6, 2007 08:51 AM

I am headed down to the Gables and want Peruvian, which should I choose: La Cofradia or Francesco?

  1. advisor_Girl Jul 6, 2007 08:54 AM

    Francesco.

    AG

    1. m
      mario Jul 6, 2007 10:47 AM

      In this order:

      1. Francesco, must try the black rice and the
      2. El farolito

      1. t
        tpigeon Jul 6, 2007 12:57 PM

        I have not eaten at La Cofradia but Francesco may be my favorite restaurant in miami.

        1. yomyb Jul 6, 2007 02:13 PM

          Thanks! Funny thing is I expected the opposite...my Peruvian friend loves Cofradia....but to be honest, I'd rather go by your suggestions ;-)

          2 Replies
          1. re: yomyb
            t
            tpigeon Jul 6, 2007 06:03 PM

            Here is an old review thread that was brought back to life by Netmover - talks very specificly about ordering strategy.
            http://www.chow.com/topics/134702

            I have to temper my original review a bit. At that time, I had not been to NYC for a while and forgot how good the very best restaurants are so you should change "amongst the very best dishes I had" to mearly "excellent" or "outstanding."

            That all being said, Francesco's would be an excellent addition to any city and I am very happy it is in Miami (though I wish it were in south beach :)).

            1. re: yomyb
              t
              tpigeon Jul 6, 2007 06:08 PM

              One thing I didn't mention in the old thread is the squid ink, aji amarillo risotto shrimp, which I like even better than the "regular squid ink risotto" dish. Netmover thought the regualr one was better though - either way, you can't go wrong. Must do squid ink...

            2. a
              andrea Maxwell Jul 6, 2007 06:36 PM

              Francesco. Ate there last week. Excellent food and service. Live cello music. Top rated for food in Miami by Zagat. Get ceviche and ask for hot sauce on side. Potato dishs also amazing. Lots of locals.

              1. Blind Mind Jul 31, 2007 06:15 AM

                Francesco is hands down the best Peruvian in Miami, let alone the Gables. La Cofradia is pretty good but the costs are pretty high and a few of the items Ive tried there have not been stellar. First time I went there was Valentines Day a few years back right after they opened. Fixed menu was great and their wine selection was pretty good too. That dinner definitely left a hole in my wallet though haha.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Blind Mind
                  scubadoo97 Aug 23, 2007 04:33 PM

                  I have not been to Francesco but did eat at La Cofradia awhile back. I too was not overly impressed by the food at LC and the prices were high. I had a veal chop that was nothing to write home about and the sauce was overly salty and I like salt. Grouper was good but not stellar. Over all the food was not bad except the salty sauce on the veal but the prices were just too high for the quality of food and technique of in the kitchen.

                  1. re: scubadoo97
                    Blind Mind Aug 24, 2007 07:46 AM

                    I agree on LaCofradia. Their food is, well, good. However, the value is majorly lacking. Prices are way too high, and as a result, I havent returned since first trying them out.

                2. yomyb Jul 31, 2007 06:50 AM

                  Thanks everyone for your input. We finally tried Francesco's last Friday...WOW. I am Puerto RIcan, so this can never leave this board, but Peruvian food is by far my favorite Latin food. The ingredients are wondeful, the variety of dishes and flavors, how clean and healthy it can be.... I'm in love, and Francesco's showcases all that beautifully. The tacu tacu, both wih mushrooms and with seafood, was perfectly moist and seasoned, the causa was creamy and delicious, the sirloin was perfectly cooked, melt in your mouth style, and the ceviche was the best I've had in Miami. The suspiro was so sweet and sinful we had to share between three, and still laughed the whole time we were eating it. I bet we were all thinking: "I love that you are my friend and accomplice on this, may this never leave these walls" ;-). Thank god for expresso after that! And thank God for good food!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: yomyb
                    advisor_Girl Jul 31, 2007 11:50 AM

                    Amen.

                    1. re: advisor_Girl
                      Blind Mind Jul 31, 2007 01:16 PM

                      Amen is right. The XO Grouper there is money as well. Glad you enjoyed!

                  2. Frodnesor Aug 23, 2007 06:47 AM

                    After much touting by many chowhounds (to say nothing of the Zagat rating), I finally tried Francesco's for lunch yesterday. We split a ceviche sampler (fish and seafood done traditional, w/ aji amarillo, and w/ rocoto chile), and collectively our group also had the squid ink risotto, tacu tacu w/ seafood (mine), and the seco de salmon (a cilantro based salmon stew). While it was a nice lunch, I have to confess I'm somewhat baffled as to how this place can be regarded as one of the best restaurants in Miami.

                    The ceviches I thought were disappointing. The presentation itself was somewhat sloppy, with the three ceviches all slopped onto one plate with the different sauces completely blanketing the seafood, running into each other, and also coating the accompanying peruvian corn accompaniment. I could be wrong, but it appears the sauces get added on immediately before serving rather than being a component of the ceviche preparation itself. The sauces themselves I thought were way too creamy, and muted rather than enhanced the flavor of the seafood (and also made the seafood items almost indistinguishable visually). You'd stab a fork into something and say "I wonder what I got?" before taking a bite. I much prefer a simple ceviche where you can actually see what you're getting and can taste each item - to me the beauty of a ceviche is the simplicity and purity of the ingredients, which gets lost when you slather it with sauce. The salad that came with the lunch specials I enjoyed, with bits of asparagus, halved cherry tomatoes and other veg dressed with a yellow dressing that also may have had a hint of aji amarillo. Lunch specials are all very reasonably priced around $15.

                    I snagged a bite of my fellow diner's squid risotto and it was quite tasty. I also liked my tacu tacu (a refried rice & bean type dish which I believe is pan-fried and often rolled into a sort of torpedo shape) though the advertised "mariscos" were mind-bogglingly hard to find. Aside from one shrimp which crowned the top of the dish, I found virtually no seafood at all in the tacu tacu itself. Some accompanying pickled onion and a green herby/spicy sauce added a little variety to what otherwise was basically beans & rice. My other fellow diner's salmon stew just didn't interest me, a piece of salmon drenched in a green sauce bearing a strong resemblance to the same sauce which accompanied my tacu tacu, with a side of a "white bean risotto" which also bore a strong resemblance to my tacu tacu before getting refried.

                    Don't get me wrong - the food was good. However, I don't see how it was so much exponentially better than any other Peruvian place in town, much less one of the best restaurants in town. Yes, the squid ink risotto is quite good. But I actually preferred the ceviche at my little neighborhood place, El Rincon de Chabuca on Collins and 71st, and would be hard pressed to say the tacu tacu was much more than marginally better at Francesco.

                    So what am I missing? Does one good dish really make Francesco one of the best restaurants in Miami? Or do I just not appreciate Peruvian food enough to get what makes this place superior?

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: Frodnesor
                      Blind Mind Aug 23, 2007 09:48 AM

                      Ive been there a few times and the food is killer. Maybe you just had a bad experience? Ive never been there for lunch either, so maybe its a different kitchen crew? My fave there is the Grouper VSOP. Ive had a few other entrees there and have never left disappointed. My dates have also enjoyed the food and atmosphere and some of them have been rather picky girls when it comes to critiquing food. Also, most places Ive seen that do ceviche add any sort of sauce on afterwards (check out Jaguar in the Grove where you can watch them prepare it at the ceviche bar). Im surprised to hear such a negative review on Francesco as it is the best Peruvian in Miami in my opinion.

                      1. re: Blind Mind
                        Frodnesor Aug 23, 2007 12:38 PM

                        To the contrary, I didn't think anything was bad - it was a fine meal, though I did not like the ceviches drowned in sauces. I just don't understand (1) what makes this so much better than any other Peruvian place; and (2) what makes this one of the best restaurants in town.

                      2. re: Frodnesor
                        netmover Aug 23, 2007 03:37 PM

                        Wow...I'm not sure how to respond to all that! Allow me to take a stab at it though...

                        Tacu Tacu is simply rice and beans in the shape of a Spanish egg Tortilla. Does the menu say it's Seafood tacu tacu or is really just seafood with tacu tacu? That may have gotten lost in the nuance of translation .

                        I have never done their lunch, so I can't opine there. However, I hear you loud and clear with regards to that ceviche, you nailed it. It was good, and I unlike you, was happy to have the sauce variety which I think lends a certain sex appeal to what is admittedly a simple dish. The presentation of slopping them all together was lacking for sure, since they bled as you duly noted. I am partial to spoons ala Jaguar.

                        The Causa and Papa's ala Huaicainas were stellar. That Squid Ink Risotto with Frutti di Mare was phenomenal, as was the yellow one TP mentions above.

                        I find it hard to beleive you mentioned that Colombian joint on Collins posing as a Peruvian joint in the same breath with Francescos...seeing how they are hardly in the same league...but I am going to let that one slide due to your final question. Which BTW, only you can answer.

                        You should try Salmon Salmon if you haven't already. They do their ceviche the way you like it.

                        I got to agree with the YOMYBoriqua, Peruvian food may be the best in all of Latin America...with the exception of Mexico, maybe.

                        Frod, you'd be very hard pressed to find a better Risotto at the finest Italian restaurants in town and that's exactly why it's one of the best this magic city has to offer! Certainly you will not find that dish at the corner Chabuca...you're better off down at Chalan...trust me.

                        One thing worth noting about Peruvian food is the wide variety of dishes...so I am certain there must be something you will absolutely love if you keep exploring.

                        Good luck.

                        1. re: netmover
                          Frodnesor Aug 24, 2007 07:20 AM

                          The menu description was:
                          Tacu tacu de Mariscos $ 14.00
                          Jasmine rice mixed with white beans Peruvian puree, filled with seasoned seafood served with our Peruvian sauces: huacatay (mountain herb) and criolla.

                          It was a generous serving of tacu tacu (couldn't finish it), but it was hardly "filled with seasoned seafood".

                          See, the point of my comparison to the "Colombian joint on Collins posing as a Peruvian joint" (which I like calling "El Rincon de Chewbacca") is that: (1) I actually liked their ceviche better; and (2) the tacu tacu was not so appreciably different from Francesco's that as to that dish, anyway, I could understand calling Francesco's one of the best restaurants in Miami and E.R.D.C. a mediocre corner joint (if I may paraphrase).

                          I will agree that the ceviche is a matter of personal preference as to style. I may also need to consider whether tacu tacu, even if a "classic" dish, is a proper benchmark for comparing Peruvian restaurants (perhaps it's like trying to compare Thai places by their papaya salad - there's only so many degrees of good or bad you can reach). And I don't doubt for a minute that E.R.D.C. would never in a hundred years duplicate the squid risotto - that was a very good dish.

                          I won't give up - there are other dishes I'd be interested in trying, and I agree it's an interesting cuisine particularly given the Asian influence (which I find all the more interesting because it's a cultural thing rather than a "forced marriage" by some chef trying to be clever). However, I still don't think that Peruvian can hold a candle to Mexican for variety or complexity.

                          1. re: Frodnesor
                            yomyb Aug 24, 2007 03:09 PM

                            Hi everyone. Nice debate. Frod, I have to disagree with you on this one obviously but I respect your opinion. Taste is one of those things....and these restaurants are not $100 bills, not everyone can like them ;-)

                            As far as the ceviche, I have never been to Peru, but I am fortunate to have some amazing Peruvian friends, born and raised there, who always describe the best and most authentic ceviche to be served just like it was served TO US at Francesco's. Fresh as can be. Juice poured over it a the last minute, giving it very little time to "cook." That is what we got and that is what we loved. I care very little about presentation as long as it tastes right. I. But like I said, we all know on this board you are a great critic, and a trusted chowhound, sorry you were disappointed.

                            Francesco's is not gourmet, it is Latin food made nicer. What Carmen's was to Puerto Rican food. In PR we have a lot of restaurants like that, and I miss that being here in Miami. So that is why IMHO, it is so wonderful.

                            Have a nice weekend....hope you all find lots of good eats ;-)

                            1. re: yomyb
                              Frodnesor Aug 25, 2007 02:17 PM

                              Let me be clear, I posted not to be critical, but to have the chance to hear from others what they thought made the place so great and to learn.

                              1. re: Frodnesor
                                Blind Mind Aug 27, 2007 10:08 PM

                                Honestly Fro, in my opinion its the best Peruvian in Miami and Ive tried a few. Many people in Miami like to go against the grain or bash what is good, and while I dont think you are that type of person, I cant help but think that your expectations were too high when you went to Francescos. Do you like Peruvian food? If not, you may not be able to distinguish the difference between Francesco's and other Peruvian or wannabe-Peruvian joints. Simply put, I love the food and atmosphere at Francescos. Its a great hole in the wall that I would go to more often if I wasnt so busy trying to eat at just about every place in Miami...haha

                            2. re: Frodnesor
                              netmover Aug 28, 2007 08:14 PM

                              Thanks for the chuckle Frod...I was LOL with that Chewbacca take!

                              It's sounds like that tacu tacu should contain seafood? The seafood seems to be plentiful there with every other seafood dish I've seen or ordered at Francescos.

                              Maybe next time you should skip the combo ceviche and go with the one you like most? Please try that acebechado de tuna. I thought I read where some one said it was inedible above? The night I was there it was unbeleivable, of the hook in fact. Again, this is why we all have a favorite color! Or maybe it was an off night?

                              As for your Mexy take, I back that 100% which is why I threw it out there as a caveat. Having lived in Mexico for a semester, I feel that I have only scratched the surface of our NAFTA neighbor's cuisine to the south. This community could use to scratch said surface too...Big Time! When we are forced to celebrate the arrival of a chain like chipotle it speaks volumes to the lack of good Mexy cuisine in the MIA...(is it open yet?)

                              Getting back to the subject at hand, I like the Steak saltimboca and tacu tacu, those green pastas tallarin's can be good. The aguaditos are nice. I always see them serving up some seafood stew in the pot at Salmon Salmon that looks devine. Their Fried Rice(chaufa) gets a helping hand from the orient for sure. They roast a mean pollo, maybe not at Francescos, but in general. They have taken the papa to a new level...and would have made the Irish even happier! All in all, were I stuck living in the Epcot of Latin America, kind of like we are down here in the MIA, I would spend a lot of time in Peru, just like I do.

                              Good Peruvian restaurants are certainly more prolific down here than good Mexican restaurants...disafortunadamente!

                              1. re: netmover
                                Frodnesor Jan 29, 2008 07:48 PM

                                I revisited again earlier this week. Got the arroz con calamares en su tinta which was mighty good stuff. Tried to get a traditional ceviche mixto but the table opted instead for the "sampler" with the three sauces - which, again, I didn't really like.

                                The arroz negro is mighty fine stuff though and the place is worth a visit if just for that dish alone.

                                1. re: Frodnesor
                                  t
                                  tpigeon Jan 30, 2008 04:57 AM

                                  You should have had the tres leches cake for dessert. Agreed that the squid ink stuff is their best dishes. I thought you had them last time too and didn't like them.

                                  1. re: tpigeon
                                    Frodnesor Jan 30, 2008 06:06 AM

                                    No, I tried someone else's arroz negro last time and liked it, I wasn't wowed by my seafood tacu tacu previously. Enjoyed this time having the rice all to myself.

                                    1. re: Frodnesor
                                      Icantread Jan 30, 2008 07:27 AM

                                      Honestly I went recently (in December) for the first time and expected much more from the place after the reviews I received both here and from friends and was not impressed. The food was good, but not great. I also had the ceviche sampler (pushed by the server) and did not like it at all. Jaguar has better ceviches IMO and I've had plenty other ones which were better. I had a squid ink risotto that was overwhelmed by garlic and do not remember what Mrs I ate, but again, good, not great. Giralda Cafe (RIP) was far better when it opened and I much prefer the food at Flor de la Canela (though yes, it is very depressing and a hike west). Will probably give Francescos another try but first will continue my search for solid Peruvian.

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