Restaurant review: Catalina 555

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Pato al Aji estilo norte chico at Catalina 555 (Photo: Kat Goicochea)

Comfort food gets a modern spin at this pleasant spot in La Victoria.

Located near the San Isidro financial district, a few blocks from the Via Expresa and Av. Javier Prado, is the newly opened Catalina 555 in La Victoria. Even though only open about six months, it made an impression on me with the food.

Chef and owner, Heine Herold, was initially headed towards a career in architecture at UPC. He began his culinary career in catering with a push from his sister and eventually his interest in cooking took over. Cooking was in his blood. Many thanks to Heine Herold for taking the time to share his passion about his restaurant and his creations.

You will not find a printed menu at Catalina 555. The menu options are all handwritten on the chalkboards located throughout the restaurant. There are approximately 25 dishes listed and plenty of variety. Occasional menu changes do occur due to seasonality of ingredients.

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Chalkboard menu at Catalina 555(Photo: Kat Goicochea)

We began our Catalina 555 experience with three of their house specialty cocktails. The Doña Cata was probably our table favorite and consisted of pisco acholado, hierba luisa and juices of pineapple and maracuya (passionfruit) and was quite refreshing. The Supay was bright and colorful due to the prickly pear cactus fruit and cranberry juice along with lime juice, Absolut vodka and triple sec. The Orange Vermouth (comprised of Cinzano Rosso vermouth, Cointreau, orange juice and sparkling water) is probably better suited for those that enjoy vermouth. This concoction was a bit bitter for our liking, but after some of the ice cubes melted, we found it much more enjoyable. Catalina 555 uses the Pisco 1615 brand in their pisco cocktails.

Besides the interesting cocktails, you will also find an extensive beer menu (approximately 28) with domestic, imported and artisanal options. You will find beers hailing from Belgium, England, Germany, as well as English cider and of course a Peruvian artisanal beer and domestic beer selection.

We began our dining experience at Catalina 555 with the croquetas de queso manchego y jamón serrano. These plump, crunchy ham and cheese croquettes were flavorful and served with a flavorful dipping sauce. Even though they were deep fried, they were not greasy.

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Croquetas Manchego y Jamón Serrano(Photo: Kat Goicochea)

When the pastel de choclo relleno de osobuco al vino arrived at our table I immediately smiled and mentally “licked my chops” in anticipation of eating this creation. The first words that came to mind after tasting it were: decadent, glorious comfort food. The preparation of the osso bucco inside of this pastel was tender and rich. The corn pie texture was moist and creamy. The addition of the osso bucco definitely made this one of the best versions I have enjoyed of this dish. Most definitely one of the flagship dishes at Catalina 555. This pastel is served with a small side salad, and the dish can easily be shared between two people.

pastel
Pastel de Choclo Relleno de Osobuco(Photo: Kat Goicochea)

The ceviche at Catalina 555 was prepared using the “catch of the day” (doncella, on the day of our visit). It was a decent preparation accompanied by the typical choclo, sweet potato and canchita along with a healthy serving of fried calamari. This trendy ceviche and fried calamari combination is showing up all over the city.

The panceta braseada con carapulcra de garbanzos (braised pork with a chickpea stew) was a flavor packed dish. The process of this dish is a long one, but so worthwhile due to the flavor and tenderness of the panceta (pork belly). After the pork is marinated for one day, it is then cooked slowly (braised) in a pot for five hours along with pork stock, vegetables, white wine and soy sauce. This mixture is pressed overnight and the next day seared on the grill. The carapulcra of garbanzos (chickpeas) was such a revelation and a pleasant surprise because the typical dried potatoes (papas seca) are replaced with the chickpeas. I am not a fan of carapulcra prepared with the typical dried potatoes, but this version was one that I would eat over and over. Crushed peanuts, aji panca aderezo, cinnamon and other spices combined with the chickpeas resulted in a creamy, nourishing comfort food. The succulent and tender panceta served on top of the creamy chickpea carapulcra and accompanied by lightly grilled vegetables and salsa criollo was one of my favorites the day of our visit. I will definitely return for this dish. It is an ideal dish for the “winter” months ahead; hearty and nourishing and most definitely to be shared.

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Panceta Braseada con Carapulcra de Garbanzos(Photo: Kat Goicochea)

For those that enjoy duck, you would most definitely enjoy another hearty dish, pato al aji estilo norte chico. Initially pieces of duck and confit are slowly seasoned in duck fat for three hours, then seared on a grill until the skin is golden in color. A sauce is then prepared with aji amarillo, squash (zapallo loche), fermented maize beverage (chicha de jora) and duck stock. Cilantro and the juices of lemon and sour orange are then added. The cooked duck is then placed into the pot with the sauce and cooked for six minutes before it is served with yuca, onions, julienned aji amarillo and tomatoes.

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Chef Heine Herold(Photo: Kat Goicochea)

We were told the most popular dishes currently served at Catalina 555 are the pastel de choclo relleno de osobuco al vino, asado de tira estofado en cerveza negra and costillas bbq con tacu tacu. I observed several tables that ordered these dishes. (Please note, many of the main dishes are substantial and can easily be shared between two or three people.)

I found Catalina 555 to be the perfect food sharing experience due to their generous portions. Their motto is: “comer y compartir” (eat and share) and we definitely conquered that. Definitely a “must” to arrive with big appetites. The traditional criollo home-cooking style, inspired with Chef Herold’s own creative touches produces updated and modern versions of classic criollo dishes reminiscent of comfort food. I am looking forward to returning soon to sample more of these dishes with family and friends.

Catalina 555
Santa Catalina 555
La Victoria
Phone: 637-2659
Facebook
Hours: Tuesday thru Sunday 12:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
Closed Monday
Noise: Conversation-friendly
Reservations accepted
Limited parking

Starters: S/. 9-40
Main Dishes: S/. 40-72
Desserts: S/. 18-20
Cocktails: S/.20-30
Beers: S/. 10-32

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Sheila Christensen Jeanneau

Sheila was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She spent several years in Denver, Colorado at Regis University and lived eleven years in Fort Lauderdale, Florida before moving with her Peruvian husband to live full-time in Peru in 2007. An epicurean at heart, Sheila first became inspired about food and cooking through the fantastic cooks in her Danish family. In her free time, Sheila is a volunteer at an orphanage, is involved in sports, including tennis and spinning, and loves exploring Peru’s incredible cuisine.