While the name “Pampa de Amancaes” might not elicit any childhood memories for many, especially those of us who weren’t born in Lima, it is the name of a place that historically evokes tradition, flair and good times. This is exactly how Marilu Recharte, Executive Chef and owner, envisioned her dream restaurant, a dream come true in October 2010. Housed in a tastefully renovated 40’s Miraflores villa, Marilu and husband Juan Manuel Roca-Rey have created cozy indoor and outdoor spaces with a décor that brings together modern colors, exquisite family heirlooms and Peruvian-Spanish touches. This homelike restaurant boasts tons of character.
Chefs Marilu and Renzo Miñán offer a carefully designed menu of traditional northern Peruvian fare prepared with top quality ingredients and plated in a sophisticated, yet generous manner. A plus for me is that the menu also caters to children. Whether you come for business or for pleasure Pampa de Amancaes will surely delight you.
We initiated our lunchtime visit by tasting their signature aperitif: the Flor de Amancaes Pisco Sour. Served in a chilled glass and decorated with a miniature lilac flower, this is a potent Pisco Sour infused with a hint of “aji amarillo” paste that gives it a distinct flavor and a gorgeous yellow tint embodying the Amancaes flower, namesake of the restaurant. This scrumptious creation is a pleasure to the eye and palate.
Our meal began with three appetizers: Baked Corn Pie (pastel de choclo), Fresh Pickled Tuna with Crispy Sweet Potato Causa and classic ceviche. The Pastel de Choclo was outstanding and highly recommendable. It is perfectly moist and flavorful, liberally filled with pork and beef under a spoonful of chutney. Served with a cherry tomatoes and organic lettuce salad with passion fruit dressing, this is a perfect option for a light meal. We also loved the Camote Crocante from the tuna plate; deep-fried Panko crusted sweet potato rolls filled with avocado and cream cheese. Simply outstanding!
Main courses followed, and first on our list was the Brothy Rice (Arroz Caldoso). This superb shellfish based risotto-like dish, is cooked in a clay pot that fuses all the great northern flavors and contains the steaming hot fare from the stove to your table. The rice is mounted with a healthy portion of pan-seared fish with herb butter. This was our party’s favorite entrée.
The second entrée we tried was a typically northern affair: Baby Goat. The Cabrito de Amancaes comes as boneless chunks of super tender meat slow cooked in “chicha de jora” and Peruvian peppers, drenched in a reduction of its own juices, over velvety Tacu Tacu (rice and beans) and topped with “salsa criolla”. Their cabrito is truly mouthwatering and plenty to share.
Yet, if you can only handle so much red meat, and wish to experience these glorious flavors, I would recommend the Baby Goat Ravioli. This much lighter option bears the great essence of the latter and consists of beautifully plated cabrito-filled squash ravioli au gratin, smothered in the meat’s cooking juices, covered with seared mushrooms, caramelized bell-peppers and fresh arugula.
I’d also like to draw attention to their rendition of an emblematic Peruvian dish: Lomo Saltado. Pampa de Amancaes proudly took third-place in the Best Lomo Saltado competition of Mistura 2011. Their festival-worthy version of this ubiquitous recipe exudes a smoky flavor thanks to the Pisco that the tenderloin, tomatoes and onions, are flambéed with. This classic comes with a stack of perfectly crisp yellow potato batons and white rice with corn.
Once your belly is jumping with joy, there is still more to come, so get a “to go” bag and save some room for dessert. We first got acquainted with a 17th century dessert called Ranfañote. This delightful confection traditionally made by mixing fried stale bread, coconut, raisins, and pecans soaked in spiced molasses is served warm and paired with a 21st-century vanilla ice cream that makes your heart stop.
The star dessert of the restaurant comes from Marilu’s family’s recipe repertoire: Limones Confitados de Sor Gertrudes. Glistening hollow lime halves that have gone through 9 steps in order to achieve the right texture and flavor are then filled with manjar blanco (dulce de leche), and accompanied with a lime sorbet. Finally, and because of my intrigue as to whether Peruvian “Huevo Chimbo” was the same dessert that I know from Venezuela, we were introduced to another house favorite. Indeed, this fluffy egg-based cake crowned with almonds and drowned in a Pisco-based syrup is very light and flavorful. It ended up being our top pick for dessert.
In sum, a relatively new eatery in Lima’s restaurant scene, Pampa de Amancaes offers a memorable experience with tradition, flair and good times!
Pampa de Amancaes
Where: Armendáriz 546, Miraflores.
When: Monday to Sunday. 12:00 – 16:00 and 18:00 – 23:00
Reservations: 445-5099 / 408*6949; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Starters: S/. 14-45
Main dishes: S/. 32-54
Desserts: S/. 9-22
Children’s menu: S/. 15-25