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La Mar Cebicheria Peruana -- Reviews?

ellenost Oct 5, 2011 06:47 AM

I'm having dinner next week at La Mar (the new Peruvian restaurant in the former Tabla space). Has anyone been there yet? Any dishes I should try or avoid. I'm a "newbie" when it comes to Peruvian food. Thanks for your help.

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La Mar
11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

  1. c
    churros Feb 19, 2012 09:46 PM

    I ate at La Mar this past weekend and had a great dinner. We decided to come here because of strong recs from friends who had eaten at the San Francisco and Mexico locations. We didn't have any reservations but were here on the early side and had no trouble getting a table.

    So here are my thoughts. Note that I haven't really had much experience with Peruvian food (unless chicken at Pio Pio and Flor de Mayo count). Actually, to me, La Mar seems most comparable to Nuela in terms of the atmosphere and menu which I realize is not Peruvian and more pan-Asian (and I only liked Nuela for their ceviches and disliked everything else including the decor, the cocktails, and the other food like the disappointing arroz con pato).

    So onto my meal at La Mar...

    Cocktails were fantastic. The pisco sour was my favorite but the other ones were really good too. For food, we wanted to sample as much as possible so we got the cebiche tasting (elegance, popular, nikei) and the causa tasting (limena, nikei, oliva) as our appetizers. The ceviches were excellent with the nikei as my favorite. I also really liked the causas...while I didn't care for the whipped potato part (they didn't seem to have much flavor), the fish combinations on top were really good. Of the three causas, I enjoyed the nikei the most. We then shared the sudado nikei entree...this was excellent as well. For dessert, we weren't really in the mood for anything and just got tea and coffee. They actually had quite a number of teas to choose from and they all sounded interesting.

    My one quibble with the meal is the lighting...we sat downstairs and it was little brighter than I would have liked. Also, I would say the meal was kind of pricey. Bill for 2 came out to about $180 total (including 4 drinks, tax, and tip). We weren't that hungry which is why we shared an entree and didn't get dessert but if we came with normal appetites, we definitely would have needed more food. Certainly worth it for the quality of the food and probably not out of line with other restaurants of this caliber but nonetheless food here is on the expensive side.

    So all in all, this was a very enjoyable meal. I would definitely get the ceviches again and then probably explore the rest of the menu as so many other things sounded good. La Mar also seems like a good spot to grab drinks/apps at the bar before moving onto another place for dinner.

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    La Mar
    11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

    1. skigirl Nov 6, 2011 10:11 AM

      I can't say that I share the complimentary sentiment about La Mar.

      First, I wasn't a fan of the room. Downstairs was okay, but upstairs, two tops were way too close together (a pet peeve of mine when dining somewhere of this caliber) and for such an airy room, I felt cramped. I also thought the vibe was rather cold, particularly in comparison to it's predecessor's. I don't mind modern and sleek, but this was just pretty blah and soulless.

      Second, the service. Bussers were quick to pull plates away, and the waiter couldn't take our order fast enough. When I wanted a second glass of sake, however, no one was to be found. Pretty erratic.

      Third, the food....Nothing was terrible but nothing wowed me. My friend and I each got a ceviche. i chose the tuna (nikei). It was lovely but it the tamarind didn't add quite the zing I expected. Certainly the best part of my meal, though. As for mains, my friend -- who is peruvian -- got the lomo salato. He had been so excited to try it but was really disappointed. Not being a lomo salato expert myself, I can't compare to other versions but can say that the dish did nothing to make we want to try it again. Would much prefer a nice seared flank steak not drenched in rather tepid gravy. My entree was arroz con mariscos. It was the disappointment of the night. Basically a salty fried rice with lots of peas and a really paltry array of seafood. The menu describes the dish as containing "fresh calamari, Spanish day-boat octopus, shrimp, scallops, mussels, market vegetables, ajies and salsa criolla." I found NO octopus, about 5 tiny leathery rings of calamari, an equal number of dried out mussels (out of shell), 3 small/,medium shrimp and a topping of one large scallop. This might have been an adequate side as served, but it certainly wasn't a main given the meager and completely unimpressive seafood in contained.

      We didn't bother with dessert. Besides, the waiter had shown back up and seemed pretty anxious to turn our table.

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      La Mar
      11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

      1. r
        Rich D. Oct 18, 2011 10:32 AM

        I went on Friday night with a group of 4. All in all, we declared La Mar a winner, and one to which we'd all return.

        We promptly arrived for our reservation at 8pm. Althought he hostess was a bit awkward in leading us on a slow walk up the stairs to our table, she was pleasant enough and we were ready to get started. The scene was lively. There were lots of groups, couples and definitely a buzz in the air. There also seemed to be a significant amount of guests from South America or Latin America. Spanish was prevalent. One complaint, although it was unseasonably warm last Friday and maybe the heat rose to the upper level of the space, initially we were all uncomfortably hot. Nevertheless, the heat was nothing that cool drinks wouldn't cure.

        The cocktails were all a hit. The pisco sour is likely the best I've ever had. The ladies had the cucumber basel cocktail and the passion fruit based pisco cocktail. They loved them as well.

        On to the food. We ordered a LOT of food. We tried three ceviches: The limeno (snapper, scallops, octopus, calamari and blue shrimp), the Nikei (yellowfin tuna, daikon and avocado) and one that is not listed on the online menu, which had sea urchin and scallops. All were excellent, but I am partial to sea urchin in any way, shape or form. There were 4 plump pieces of sea urchin resting on a bed of 8 or so thinkly-sliced day boat scallops. Absolutely delicious.

        Next we tried the tiradito of salmon belly, the charred octopus appetizer and we were given, compliments of the chef, the tuna tiradito. The tiraditos each consisted of 8 or so thinly sliced pieces of top-grade fish swimming in a fragrant and poignant dressing. They were excellent. The best bite of the meal however may have been the smoked octopus. The portion was a LITTLE bit on the small-size, but the dish was cooked and seasoned to perfection.

        We also tried the empanadas appetizer (tasty, but I agree with Kathryn that they are worth skipping), the the Causas Tasting (fantastic! though a bit on the small side for the price), and the arroz con mariscos (delicious as well). As if that weren;t enough food, our server gifted us a plate of the beef skewers. We were all stuffed by that point, but they were cooked properly and were juicy as can be. A welcome addition to the table!

        For dessert we had one order, split 4 ways, of the green tea cheese cake (which is not called a cheese cake on the menu for some reason). It was very good, but nothing to go crazy over in my opinion.

        In total, with 3 drinks each, we spent $100/person including tip and tax. I will definitely return.

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        La Mar
        11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

        1. c
          comiendosiempre Oct 16, 2011 11:39 AM

          Six of us went to La Mar the other evening. We had a great meal, all were very impressed.

          They spend a small fortune renovating TABLA. We like the design and the look of the place. It feels very much like an upscale restaurant in Polanco, or similar. Service was good, very friendly and knowledgeable waitress, most staff speak Spanish, a good thing here. Also, an obvious number of Latin diners.

          All our dishes were winners, not a clunker in the group. We do wish they actually had a few options as sides. Likewise, a few dishes could probably be spiced up a bit, though they will bring you an incendiary hot sauce on the side if you ask. Good wine list with a good (though not very wide) selection of South American wines. Good short list of speciality cocktails too. The only items we were not thrilled about were the desserts, we found those just Ok. Pricing wise it is not cheap but it is, we thought, less expensive than some similar venues. We will return.

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          La Mar
          11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

          1 Reply
          1. re: comiendosiempre
            r
            RGR Oct 16, 2011 12:06 PM

            Could you tell us the dishes you had that were winners, which you felt were spiced correctly, and which you felt could be "spiced up a bit"? Also, what were the desserts that fell short?

            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

          2. f
            ferret Oct 12, 2011 08:13 AM

            It's one of my go-to spots when I'm in San Francisco, Glad that there's another one in NY (still none in Chicago). The ceviches are great and I'm a big fan of the corn empanadas. The last few times I've gone with a group (4-6) so we pretty much ordered every appetizer (ceviches, causas, empanadas and skewers) and drinks. Everyone was happy.

            1. ellenost Oct 12, 2011 07:59 AM

              While I am a "newbie" to Peruvian food, I loved my dinner last night at La Mar! Food and service were excellent, and I look forward to many return visits.

              We started with a round of cocktails. My friends all had the pisco sour (which I tasted and liked), but I loved my pisco cocktail with passion fruit.

              There were four of us, and we wanted to try as many dishes on the menu since they all sounded delicious (we shared everything). We had 5 appetizers (and our charming and attentive waiter "gifted" us with a sixth):

              1) Nikei cebiche with yellowfin tuna, red onion, Japanese cucumber, daikon, avocado and nori in a tamarind leche de tigre--loved this especially the leche de tigre;

              2) chifa tiraditos (Peruvian sashimi with wild salmon belly, cilantro and passion fruit leche de tigre)--another winner;

              3) tasting of the three causas (whipped potatoes each a different color (orange, yellow and green) topped with different fish--beautiful presentation and delicious;

              4) Popular cebiche (the "gift" from our waiter) which had salmon, shrimp and Spanish day-boat octopus in green leche de tigre topped with crispy calamari--delcious too;

              5) pastel de coclo (Peruvian corncake with hon shimeji mushrooms and choclo saltado)--very tasty but didin't want to eat too much of this since one of my friends doesn't eat raw fish so I wanted her to have more of this; and

              6) chupe (Peruvian soup with warm water shrimp, choclo, fava beans, quail egg, yellow poatoes and squash)--fantastic, and I ate a generous portion even though I should have left more for my friend who didn't eat the raw fish appetizers--sorry.

              We shared 3 main dishes:

              1) lomo saltado (wok sauteed hanger steak with onions, tomatoes, scallions, fried quail egg and french fries with a side of arroz con choclo--this was my favorite. The steak was a beautiful med/rare and full of flavor;

              2) arroz con mariscos (pan-fried rice with calamari, Spanish day-boat octopus, shrimp, jumbo scallops, vegetables, ajes and salsa criolla) ---very tasty; and

              3) aji de gallina (creamy Peruvian stew of chicken, organic market potatoes, quail egg and micro greens that also had a side of arroz con choclo--probably the mildest of all of the dishes.

              My friends were too full to order dessert (not me), so I'll need to return soon to La Mar to try them.

              Service was great the entire evening. We arrived early, and were seated immediately upstairs at a lovely table by the window. Our servier (wish I knew his name since he was so friendly and attentive) was wonderful. I have no idea why others have complained about service, but last night service was impeccable.

              Even though I'll miss Tabla, I am thrilled to finally have tried Peruvian food, and am delighted that La Mar has opened in the former Tabla space!

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              La Mar
              11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

              3 Replies
              1. re: ellenost
                r
                RGR Oct 12, 2011 08:29 AM

                Thanks for the review, ellenost. Great to hear that you enjoyed your maiden voyage into Peruvian cuisine, that everything was delicious, and that service was excellent.

                Two questions: What did you think of the decor? And how was the noise level?

                La Mar is, of course, near the top of my "go to" list, and based on your report, it looks as though we have another wonderful restaurant practically on our doorstep.

                http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                1. re: RGR
                  ellenost Oct 12, 2011 08:38 AM

                  The upstairs is very similar to Tabla except the floor is much darker which makes those stairs a bit more scary--they need better lighting. The chairs are more casual in decoration, and while they had no cushions, they were comfortable. No tablecloths, but nice placemats--similar to Riverpark. Noise level upstairs was fine. We had no trouble chatting and hearing one another. When we left at about 8:30, all of the tables upstairs were full. I'll look forward to your report and photos.

                  1. re: ellenost
                    r
                    RGR Oct 12, 2011 09:13 AM

                    Thanks for the details, ellenost. Too bad about the "no tablecloths," though I guess it's in keeping with the current trend toward less formality. The emphasis on hard surfaces often has a very negative effect on noise levels, so it's good to hear that's not the case at La Mar.

                    http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

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                    La Mar
                    11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

              2. q
                Quimbombo Oct 8, 2011 09:54 AM

                We dined there last night.

                The food was excellent from the lomo salteado, their chaufa version of fried rice, the sudado to their meats.

                The service was uneven, however, a party of 5, 3 got their meal and had to start eating as 2 others had to wait for their meal. A glitch most likely due to having recently opened.

                If you go have Peru's best loved cocktail ask for this one: Pisco Sour Seco with Pisco 100

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                La Mar
                11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

                1. k
                  kathryn Oct 5, 2011 05:24 PM

                  I had an impromptu business lunch here last week. Pretty looking space after the redo, but you could see the insulation through what used to be an open area from the balcony down to the dining room.

                  Tried an interesting blue corn soda that they make in house -- tasty and unusual, and not too sweet.

                  One thing to note: daily specials on the boards appear to be ONLY for dinner, annoying.

                  All the ceviches were good to very good, though hard to share as they were a bit drippy (we were recommended to use spoons by the server). Hopefully they'll iron these kinks out.

                  Elegance ceviche (warm water fluke, red onions, peruvian corn and yam in a leche de tigre of five elements) was good but kind of "standard" as far as ceviche goes. I did like the Peruvian corn (huge kernals, thought it was a tiny tuber at first, my coworker guessed they were hominy).

                  Limeño ceviche was definitely a notch better. American red snapper, spanish day-boat octopus, calamari, scallops and blue shrimp in an ají limo leche de tigre. Great sauces. High quality and very fresh seafood. Amazing "juice" at the bottom -- I could have eaten this all day.

                  Nikei ceviche was probably my favorite -- yum! Very Japanese tasting in flavor. Yellowfin tuna, red onion, japanese cucumber, daikon, ripe avocado and nori in a tamarind leche de tigre juice. Really really good. Avocado and tuna always goes well together. My coworkers and I disagreed which was better, the Limeno or the Nikei, but we both thought they were excellent.

                  We also got one non-ceviche appetizer. Ají De Gallina, which was two empanadas, two tequeños (looked like egg rolls) and two croquetas. with mashed avocado, rocoto cream and ocopa sauce. Excellent sauces. I might skip this in the future.

                  For my main, I was pretty full at this point, so opted for the beef skewers. Listed as "Antichucho" served with with anticucho sauce, smashed fried potatoes, choclo, and huacatay sauce. Perfectly cooked to a nice medium. High quality meat, well trimmed, nicely chewy, good flavor. Simple dish executed very, very well.

                  My coworker got the arroz con pato, and it was really more like a roasted duck leg with crispy skin, and some rice. Meant more as a 1 person entree, focused on the meat than the rice. He loved it, said it was the best thing he'd eaten in weeks. I didn't get a chance to try it, he ate it so quickly!

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                  La Mar
                  11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kathryn
                    ellenost Oct 5, 2011 06:44 PM

                    Thanks RGR and Kathryn! I think I'll definitely try the Limeno and Nikei ceviches.

                  2. r
                    RGR Oct 5, 2011 04:12 PM

                    Here's the first review I've seen.

                    http://mouthfulsfood.com/forums/index.php?/topic/24721-la-mar/

                    http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                    1. r
                      Rich D. Oct 5, 2011 01:58 PM

                      I'm heading there next Friday. I'll be sure to report back. I'm excited for the visit. The menu looks great and I've heard nothing but raves from NYers who have been to the San Francisco post of the restaurant.

                      1. r
                        RGR Oct 5, 2011 09:26 AM

                        ellenost,

                        We haven't been to La Mar yet because I usually like to give new restaurants a chance to get the kinks out and to read what others have to say about it.

                        I see that arroz con pato is on the menu. Aldea and Nuela both have delicious versions of it, albeit rather different ones. So, that's a dish I'd definitely consider trying.

                        Aldea's Arroz con Pato: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/3810088461/in/set-72157622007408728

                        Nuela's Arroz de Pato: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/5366664818/in/set-72157625851117070

                        Looking forward to reading your report.

                        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: RGR
                          l
                          LRS Oct 5, 2011 09:46 AM

                          La Mar branch in Mexico City is pretty good, so
                          Im looking forward to this Acurio's branch.

                          1. re: LRS
                            l
                            LRS May 20, 2012 12:36 PM

                            I went to La mar in the city a few days ago and did not like it one bit, plus it was too expensive for what they give you. Will keep going to my usual places in Queens.

                          2. re: RGR
                            Cheeryvisage Oct 5, 2011 02:11 PM

                            Oh my god, Nuela's Arroz con Pato looks spectacular. I need to plan a visit.

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