Restaurant review: OSSO Carnicería y Salumeria

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“Osso is a paradise for carnivores”, need we say more?

For quite awhile I have been eager to dine at Osso. The original location, which opened in 2013, is situated in the La Molina area. Traveling from La Punta (from where I reside) all the way to La Molina can be a 2+ hour adventure in the car. I rarely make it out to that area. A few months ago while I was at the Swissotel, I observed that Osso would soon be opening up a new location across from the hotel. It immediately renewed the spark of visiting.

Most Limeño food enthusiasts know of Osso and the founders, Renzo Garibaldi and his wife Andrea Yui. Osso has garnered its justified buzz over the past few years and recently has found itself ranked No. 27 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants. The accolades and hype have all been well deserved and people come from different countries to dine at Osso.

Garibaldi decided to branch out and replicate his dedication to meat at this new San Isidro address. This new venue opened in November of last year, and is already enjoying steady business. This locale also has the butcher shop store and restaurant concept, but expects to serve a much wider audience of diners and customers due to its location. This is an ideal spot in San Isidro because it is accessible to tourists staying at the nearby hotels and the many business people who populate the area. Sales are expected to increase greatly. One can still expect to receive the same great care and attention to the meat.

Osso prides itself in its passionate sustainable butchery approach. Their motto is to raise the animals with respect in a natural manner without using hormones or antibiotics. No nitrates, preservatives or artificial colorantes are used. All of their meats, sausages, etc. are artisanal. The meats are dry aged to concentrate on the flavor and texture of the meat. The dry aging process adds to the complexity of the flavor and as the connective tissue breaks down during this process, it imparts more tender meat.

Finally the day came to try the restaurant. When we arrived, we were greeted quite enthusiastically by Diego (the head chef) and Alfonso (the maitre’d) and given a tour of both the restaurant and the store premises. The butcher shop and store is pristine and offers a wide variety of quality artisanal products with rows of displayed dry aged meats, homemade sausages, salamis, bacon, hamburgers, hams, roast beef, pastramis and much more. There is also a counter where you can order sandwiches “to go”. Osso’s shop also sells oils, sauces, mustards, rubs, seasonings, broths, wines, artisanal beers, sodas, crackers, cutting boards, cookery items, gadgets, etc. There were also a couple cases of various artisanal sausages that were hanging with tags of the dates to keep track of how long they were aging. My favorite part was entering the large walk-in refrigerated meat area in the back where bounties of large cuts of meat were dry aging on various shelves. I was in meat magnificence heaven.

The restaurant area is totally separated from the shop. It is spacious and has seating for approximately 90 customers. The La Molina locale is much smaller and only has seating for 36. The restaurant´s interior design is an appealing mix of upscale, yet comfortable decor. It is bright and airy inside. The exposed ceilings, glossy wood floors, muted furniture colors, leather, metallic and brick accents, wood tables, along with the occasional pops of vibrant red here and there, combine to create a sophisticated mix of both natural and slightly industrial elements.

I am a native Chicagoan and many of us take great pride in being a city of food lovers with great restaurants. That includes our love of and bordering obsession with meat. I truly felt like I was right in my “wheelhouse” at Osso.

Before we began our culinary experience at Osso, we sampled three of their four specialty house cocktails along with their amazing artisanal breads. We began with their Tumbo y Tanqueray. This cocktail incorporated Tanqueray Ten gin, tumbo and pineapple fruit juice, and an accent of dried chamomile flowers, as well an an infusion of the airampo fruit (an Andean fruit similar to a prickly pear cactus), to give it a bit more color. This was the most refreshing and mildest of the three cocktails we enjoyed.

The Mejicano was most definitely the more robust and distinctive of the three sampled. This concoction was prepared with Mezcal Alipus (artisanal Mezcal prepared by distilling agaves), St. Germain (elderflower liqueur), pink grapefruit juice, pineapple syrup and a touch of jalapeño. This beverage is not for the faint of heart. The first sip awakened the senses and with each sip after that you become more enthralled with this cocktail. The smokiness emitted by the Mezcal is incredibly unique.

Our last cocktail creation was the Amargo y Dulce. Typically I am not a scotch imbiber, but this beverage was smooth. The combination of Old Par Scotch, vermouth, infused with coca, aperol, and an orange bitter was quite satisfying. Another twist to this drink was the addition of extra large smoked ice cubes that gave it another dimension. The smoked ice cubes are available upon request as well. Each of the house specialty cocktails was totally unique creations and all cost 38 soles. Besides the wide variety of cocktails Osso has to offer, they have an extensive wine list and collection.

The hits kept coming when we began our culinary experience with the steak tartar (S/. 52). There are many versions of this renowned meat dish which is typically prepared with finely chopped or ground raw beef and is often served with capers, onions, seasonings and raw egg. At Osso, the steak tartar is prepared with a 21-day aged Angus beef tenderloin. Our waiter prepared the steak tartar tableside and mixed in egg yolks chopped green onions, sal de maras (mineral salt harvested from a set of pools terraced into a mountainside in the Sacred Valley near Cusco), and garlic to the chopped raw beef. Baguette toasts accompanied this dish. You have the option of ordering the Angus (S/. 52) or Wagyu beef (S/. 95). This is one of my favorite dishes and Osso prepared an excellent version. I enjoyed the simplicity of their preparation. Many versions use capers and Worcestershire sauce, but sometimes these two ingredients can alter the flavor of this dish instead of letting the meat shine. This steak tartare was a brilliant opening statement.

Next up were the chorizos (S/. 29), two artisanal sausages. The choices of sausages can vary day to day. The day of our visit we sampled the miel de maple and the ají­ amarillo sausages. Both plump sausages were flavorful and perfectly cooked, but I found the maple-infused sausage to be moister in texture and I really enjoyed the salty and slightly sweet flavor. The ají­ amarillo sausage was a bit crumbly in texture and a tad on the dry side. The ají­ amarillo flavor was there, but I was expecting more of an intense pop of flavor which was missing slightly for me.

We were delighted to receive sliders (S/. 32) at our table. The three generous mini hamburgers were prepared with 21-day aged Peruvian national beef and were cooked a bit less than medium. Cheddar cheese, cherry tomatoes and lettuce were nestled inside with the burgers served atop pillowy mini brioche chive buns. Sliders are always a table favorite. Definitely will order these again.

Next came the serious meat! A large portion (700-800 grams) of bife ancho (S/. 118) arrived at our table served on a large wood cutting board, as are most of the meat dishes. We were served the Peruvian national ribeye that had been aged 90 days. This ribeye had a nice, slightly intense flavor, but I found it to be lacking tenderness. The Peruvian national beef is not as tender as say an Angus or Wagyu due to the method of how the cattle are raised here in Peru. In Peru, the cows exercise more in order to reach their food. The Angus cows in the U.S. are kept in a pasture and their food is kept in close proximity. The Angus and Wagyu beef is tenderer in texture due to this method. Besides the national beef, the ribeye is also available with an option of Angus (S/. 135) or Wagyu (S/. 260).

One of my favorite cuts of beef, the porterhouse or T-bone (S/. 198), did not disappoint. This seared-to-perfection steak of 600-grams of U.S. Angus beef was aged between 65 and 100 days and was juicy, succulent and tender. It was most definitely one of the favorites at our table and is a popular dish at Osso. A menu mainstay. Please note, Osso recommends the meat to be cooked medium to medium-rare. The dishes are typically prepared “medium” unless otherwise specified.

The last meat dish we sampled at Osso was the chuleta de hambro (S/. 51). This 450-gram portion of shoulder cut pork was enhanced by the “perfume de Osso”, a seasoning of black and white peppercorns, fennel seeds, paico (Andean herb), and sal de maras. This is a decent option if you want to try something other than beef.

Besides the fabulous dishes mentioned above, we shared one more main dish, a risotto, and two side dishes, the papa fritas bastí³n and the ensalada de papa. The risotto de tuétano (S/. 47) was a decadent and creamy risotto that used Acquerello rice, mushrooms, and bits of bacon, chives and marrow. Instead of preparing this dish in the classic risotto method using butter, marrow was used in place of the butter, which imparted a richer flavor. You could order this as a main or as a side dish. This dish had every component of being an absolute comfort food for me. This is a “must try” dish.

The surprise side dish was the ensalada de papa (S/. 32). This potato salad was very reminiscent of the style of potato salad I find myself craving from the U.S. White potato “fingers” tossed with smoked and crispy bacon pieces, chopped green onion and all united in a garlic mayonnaise was a delight to taste. The potato salad was also accented with celery seeds. This dish brought me “home” for a few brief minutes.

It is hard to believe that we had an appetite remaining to sample desserts. The arroz con leche (S/. 25) was a hit at our table, especially for those that are fans of this popular Peruvian rice and milk-based dessert. This unique version had the traditional arroz con leche aromatized with cinnamon and clove, but with a twist of crunchy creme Brí»lée topping and refreshing green apple sorbet.

The “flagship” dessert is the Osso mess (two sizes available, S/. 22 and S/. 42). This glorious confection of meringue, vanilla ice cream, bacon, strawberries, whipped cream, a bacon-infused caramel sauce all accented with crispy bacon and served in a mason jar was decadently sweet and the twist of adding the bacon elevated this dessert for me. Bacon and caramel are a match made in heaven.

Osso also offers a 17-course tasting menu (350 soles) for at least 8 or more and up to 14 people in their private dining area. Reservations are required for the tasting menu and private room.

Most definitely I will be returning to Osso. It will be my occasional guilty indulgence and splurge. The prices at Osso are on the higher side due to the high quality, but many of their dishes are substantial in size to be shared between at least 2 or more people. This is not an establishment to bring vegetarians or those looking for fish. Osso is a paradise for carnivores.

Many thanks to Chef Diego Arciniega and the impeccable staff at Osso. A shout-out also to Cissy of Amara Photos who totally captured the essence of this restaurant in all of her photos.

Osso

  • Av. Santo Toribio 173 y Ví­a Central 172
    Torre Real 6
    (Located directly across from the front entrance of the Swissotel)
    San Isidro
    Phone: 469-7438
    www.osso.pe
    Facebook
    Hours: Monday-Saturday: 12:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. / 7:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.
    Closed Sunday
    Butcher Shop hours: Monday-Saturday: 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
    Valet parking available
    Reservations accepted
    Capacity: 90 people
    Visa, MasterCard, Amex and Diners accepted

Menu

  • Starters/Appetizers: S/. 25-115
    Salads: S/. 25-28
    Breads: S/. 9
    Main dishes: S/. 36-69
    Beef: S/. 78-350
    Pork: S/. 51-124
    Sides: S/. 17-32
    Breads: S/. 9
    Desserts: S/. 22-25
    Non-alcoholic beverages: S/. 8.50-16
    Coffee beverages: S/. 9-16
    Beer: S/. 12-19
    House cocktail specialties: S/. 38
    Gin & Tonics: S/. 35-60
    Chilcanos/Sours: S/. 23-28
    Extensive wine and cocktail list available

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