New & improved (Los) Balcones del Peru?
Paid my first visit to the recently remodeled Balcones del Peru, which is now sleek & pared down in a few different respects -- including losing "Los" from the name of the place. Main courses now number about 10. The owner mentioned to me awhile ago that he was interested in going to a smaller menu, but I was still kind of shocked to be handed a single page! A couple of items looked familiar, but many things are gone, even the simple house salad, which I sorely missed. (The house dressing was divine & doesn't seem to be served with anything else.) Even the iced tea is gone! (What is an LA restaurant without iced tea?) The complimentary bread has been replaced by homemade sweet-potato chips. Change is good, right?? Curious to hear what other Hounds think....
Change is not so good in this case. Balcones was long a favorite that has now turned itself into an also-ran. Here's the headline: smaller portions, favorites gone from the menu, flavors muted and prices the same or increased.
Here's what we had last night:
Ceviche Mixto - Still pretty good
Lomo Saltado - Good, but not as quite as soul satisfying as before. It's missing some sort of ineffable quality that used to make me crave it for hours after I'd finished eating. Also, the portion is smaller than before, which in and of itself is not a bad thing.
Chicken Saltado - Didn't eat this personally but the consensus is same as the above.
What asked for, but they didn't have/no longer on the menu.
Fried Rice - This is one of the reasons I came here, the crave factor of that rice. They said they will supposedly make it if they are not busy, but last night they said they were. It was a Sunday night and 1/2-2/3 full so fair enough.
Plantains - One guy said they would make them, the next said they wouldn't. End result no plantains.
The service at this place is still meandering, which was fine before but a little dubious now.
The place was full on a Sunday night, so maybe the owners know something I don't. However, it seems questionable to change something that people loved into something more upscale that now has to try to compete with Bowery, Magnolia, Hungry Cat etc. Maybe they were having problems, I don't know.
Balcones is still good, but has gone down a notch and in the future, I will probably be going to Mario's for my Peruvian fix.
The Hungry Cat
1535 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028