thumbs up for Piqueo's
I've been meaning to try Piqueo's since they opened, and last night three of us enjoyed a leisurely dinner. I reserved on the website and was rewarded with the table in the front window.
The atmosphere is warmer than at Mochica, and the food was quite good. We shied away from entrees. Prices are moderate, although they do add up; but then prices at Mochica were higher than I remembered last time I ate there.
We shared six small plates:
ceviche mixto - excellent
ceviche de pescado (halibut)--good but not as good as at Inka's or Mochica
anticuchon-beautifully prepared with painterly sauces, but the meat was tough and we needed sharper knives
a salad with quinoa, cheese, spinach, red onions, and tomatoes--surprising combo, quite delicious
Pastelito de Choclo, a creamy Peruvian comfort food of layered corncakes with saffron, and my favorite dish of the evening
Causita, a sort of tuna tartare in a cylinder of mashed potatoes that aspired to more than it was.
Portions are large, and our plates were swapped out once. We also had a chocolate cake with warm caramel and lucuma ice cream for dessert. It was okay, but at $10 seemed overpriced.
The complimentary corn nuts on the table were great, if hard to eat with a fork.
We had a lovely bottle of Argentine chardonnay served somewhat ineptly in huge goblets. (Even I spill wine less when I'm pouring).
Service was friendly if not especially attentive or professional. Total came to $150 including wine and 20% tip--more than I've spent at Inka's, where the food is less inventive but completely solid.
Piqueo's is on Cortland St in Bernal Heights. A big plus for the neighborhood.
The menu is surprisingly long, I usually shy away from places trying to do so much but if you read carefully the sauces show up repeatedly. All the sauces I've had there have been quite good, just something to note so you don't end up with a one-dimensional meal.
On the night I was there last, they had the most addictive fried garbanzos mixed with queso fresco, onions and other seasonings on the table instead of the "corn nuts" and they gladly mixed up a separate dish for my lactose intolerant sister, they added crisp corn kernels instead.
I have been more happy with the startes there than the entrees. Although my sister's salmon was cooked perfectly, my aji de gallina lacked dimension and the chicken tasted pre-poached and sauced to order. The small plates shine.
I agree that it's a nice addition to the neighborhood.
Good point about the sophistication of the sauces. I'd have been happy with a bunch of sauces, a little bit of fish or chicken, and a basket of bread (which wasn't offered).
Your description of the table snacks is better than my memory. I don't usually like garbanzos, but the fried ones were great. The corn nuts came with the ceviches.
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