La Gloria: An ever-evolving classic

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La Gloria, a Lima classic, continues to innovate with its high-end cuisine. (All photos by Carlos del Aguila) See slideshow.

By Yvonne Galloway

There are few foodies in Peru who haven’t heard of La Gloria, a legendary restaurant in Lima, which has a branch in Miraflores and another in the countryside. There is little in common between the two locations, but what unifies them is owner Oscar Velarde’s passion for Mediterranean cuisine.

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La Gloria's cocktails go down very, very nicely

Oscar met us at the door of the Miraflores location, and enthused about the special tasting menu he had prepared for our visit. We were to be the first to sample his ideas for a new menu. Oscar is quite the bon vivant, so we were eager to sample the days’ dishes, and felt comfortable as he welcomed us like a family member to his home. With 16 years in business, it is evident that Oscar is not willing to be complacent and strives to improve and add excitement to the menu.

The building on Atahualpa has its own soft, natural, lighting that pervades the high ceilings and complements the eclectic abstract art on the wall, with representations of landscapes and even earlobes.

Each table is served a small pail of freshly-battered whitebait along with lime wedges and a trio of sauces for dipping: rocoto, aioli and mayonnaise. I could have gone home happy with this plate alone, so fresh, and crispy was the fish. As we found out, the recipe comes straight from the kitchen of Oscar’s grandmother.

The wine list looks like a lengthy tome, with wines from nearly all continents. To simplify things, the daily recommendation offers 3 choices. Prices for high-end wines hit triple digits, but for connoisseurs this may be a small price to pay for such a selection.

Like many fine eateries in Lima, La Gloria has a good cocktail selection. The margarito was a popular twist on the traditional margarita with triple sec, pisco and a sugar (not salt) rimmed glass. The chilcano slipped down very smoothly, too.

For a meal and a glass of wine at La Gloria, expect to spend in the region of S/. 100-150, depending on what wine or main course you choose. There is a S./ 12 cover charge, as well.

Our tasting menu started with a “Chupa chup” of foie gras and mango, flavorful lollipops rich and velvety in texture. These were placed in a shot glass filled with green salt, made to look like grass.

This was followed up with a salad of crab, radicchio and hearts of palm. This was beautifully presented, with edible flowers atop. It had a surprising kick of spice to it, due to the togarashi, or Japanese crushed pepper.

Next up were lamb kidneys, wrapped in zucchini, sprinkled with red peppercorns and marinated in sherry. Then it was time for an artichoke soup with pocon mushrooms from Cajamarca. The soup was hearty and warm, and its seasoning was perfectly balanced.

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La Gloria also serves hearty soups and stews, perfect for the Lima winter.  See slideshow.

To cleanse the palate, we were served a camu camu sorbet. The camu camu is a special berry, with over 50% more vitamin C than an orange, though it did leave a slightly dry feeling on my tongue. The next dish was spaghetti with sea urchins, and while the onions were a touch overpowering, this is easily fixed.

The finale was an octopus suquet, or stew. The addition of roasted Andean potatoes on top was brilliant, and the stew was totally satisfying, without being heavy.

For once I had no room for dessert and left full, but also wondering what adjustments Oscar and his chefs would make to fine tune what has the potential to be a very adventurous menu. La Gloria is fine cuisine made with great care and attention to detail in the seasoning and presentation. It is well worth a visit.

Check out our review of La Gloria del Campo
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La Gloria's rustic sister-restaurant outside the city
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