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Restaurant Review: Candela Cocina Artesanal

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Peruvian gastronomy is a treasure that not all restaurants in Lima know how to promote and offer. Candela- Cocina Artesanal is a fancy place where traditional recipes (those that grandmothers used to keep in notebooks) come alive in a natural way.

Limonada Camu Camu (Photo: Maria Alejandra Baraybar/Traveling & Living in Peru)
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The Chef

The popular chef Javier Ampuero is responsible for crafting the restaurant’s menu, which is inspired by dishes he grew up eating as a child, cooked by his grandmother. The result is a varied menu that offers something lovely for everyone.

Salteado Anticuchero (Photo: Maria Alejandra Baraybar/Traveling & Living in Peru)

The food

The starters section offers several great traditional dishes: Papa a la Huancaina, Peruvian minestrone, and causa. But there are also non-traditional options, like octopus in olive oil-based sauces, or the leche de tigre. We started with Salteado Anticuchero (S/ 26), which is made with coal-roasted beef hearts. The meat is accompanied with roasted potatoes and corn. Then, we tried the ceviche (S/ 35). Not only did we try the classic, but also a specialty version that Candela Cocina offers, which is made with avocado, leche de tigre, olive oil, and capers. If you don’t like the traditional sour taste, then this would be a good selection.

“We prepare plates that people can say they used to eat at home, and it’s wonderful when some mothers say that know they can go to a place and give them a break”, says Jean Pimentel, Ampuero’s partner in this restaurant. “Weekends we have many families, and for summer we will open the second floor for a VIP zone, because we get many requests to hold weddings, meetings, and other reunions at the restaurant.” Pimentel explained.

Seco de Asado con Tacu Tacu de Menestras (Photo: Maria Alejandra Baraybar/Traveling & Living in Peru)

The main dishes are big enough for two people. The seco de asado with tacu tacu (S/ 52) could be the star of the menu. We enjoyed how soft and tender the ribs were. The secret lies in how they’re cooked for four hours in a dark beer. Another plate that we enjoyed was the spaghetti with pesto sauce and breaded beef loin (S/ 35). It’s served with beans and potatoes, just like grandmother used to prepare.

“Sometimes, Javier comes in with fish or seafood and starts to cook a new plate”, explains Jean. That’s why the menu in Candela is always changing and getting new, while also continuing to serve traditional plates, like carapulcra with sopa seca and pork (S/ 38), or rice with pork (S/ 42), dishes that are not common in Peruvian restaurants. “Before, the chefs wanted to make a gourmet menu, but in Peru, people want to eat like they do at home. That’s why we serve less fusion, and more traditional recipes.”

Chilcano de Arandanos (Photo: Maria Alejandra Baraybar/Traveling & Living in Peru)

The drinks

The bar is also a good surprise. From the great selection of drinks, we recommend the Botillero (with Diplomatico rum, pineapple juice, and syrup of carambola). A great thing about this drink is that rum can be substituted for a different liquor, if you wish. We also recommend the Punch Mule. This drink contains scotch, dark beer, and pineapple juice, as well as a bit of pisco, egg, and lemon.

Candela – Cocina Artesanal
Av. Del Ejército 395, Miraflores
Tel. 300 1385

Tuesday to Thursday, 12.30 – 16.00 / 19.30 – 24.00
Friday and Saturday, 12.30 – 16.00 / 19.30 – 24.00
Sunday, 12.30 – 17.00

Menu

Soups and salads: S/ 15 – S/ 35
Starters: S/ 25 – S/ 40
Main dishes: S/ 30 – S/ 52
Candela Cocktail Bar: S/ 32
Classic cocktails: S/ 24 – S/ 28
Drinks (juices, coffee, tea): S/ 6 – S/ 10

Bonus: By night, Candela has an extra menu of snacks (S/ 24 – S/ 32), like crispy breaded fish,
fried chicken wings, roast beef scallops or sliders.

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Javier García is a Peruvian journalist that writes for news, magazines, and websites about ecology, gastronomy, sports, and culture, specially Nikkei culture for APJ and Discover Nikkei. He teaches journalism at San Martín de Porres University and is the editor of the book of chronicles "Tentaciones Narrativas" (Redactum, 2014). He is also the founder of La Mesa - Pase y Pruebe, a fan page about news and events of gastronomy and culture.