Wednesday, May 05, 2004
I don't know much about Peruvian food, but I'm determined to learn more. I have been wanting to try some more of the "nuevo latino" restaurants that have opened up around town recently so this past Friday we ate at Destino . Destino is Peruvian by way of the chef's mother. The menu is comprised of small plates and big plates and many of the dishes are contemporary takes on some very traditional Peruvian fare.
We stuck with the small plates and enjoyed every single dish we tried. The menu consisted of some familiar latin dishes like arepas, empanadas and ceviche. On the other hand it also included some ingredients and dishes that were new to me--lomo saltado, pastel de choclo, aji peppers, canchas and anticuchos for example.
The arepas were actually a Venezuelan recipe and while described as cornmeal biscuits on the menu, they were really something much more ethereal. Light and crispy at the same time, filled with a mild fontina cheese and topped with a cool crisp grilled corn and tomato salsa. Empanadas I have had at many other latin restaurants and I'm sorry to say I'm often disappointed. But these were the perfect balance of thin, crisp crust and picante picadillo filling with a unusual savory cinnamon sauce on the side. The chile relleno was also memorable, a mild poblano pepper was roasted not fried, filled with ground sirloin, sharp cheddar and a variety of sauces on top, making it full of flavors and fresh tasting.
Another couple of dishes worth mentioning were the ceviche, a Peruvian mainstay and the blackened duck breast. The menu featured two different ceviches and we chose one made with pacific sea bass. It was citrusy with lime and smoky from the addition of the "canchas" which are a bit like corn nuts only less oily and salty and more toasty. The duck was coated with a sophisticated blend of spices, not your typical cajun style blackened spice mix, and served with a plantain puree that was similar to applesauce, and a perfect foil to the medium rare duck slices.
While the restaurant was rather noisy, it was cosy and comfortable, the service was outstanding and the prices quite reasonable. I look forward to my next visit and a chance to try even more of the small plates and perhaps some of the large plates...
1815 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Mon- Fri 11:30 - 2
Mon- Thurs 5:00 - 10:00
Fri & Sat 5:00 - 11:00