24 December 2012

Peruvian lunch in SF, at La Mar

For our November trip to northern California, my wife and I flew in on a Wednesday, arriving in San Francisco just before noon. That gave us enough time to stop along the Embarcadero for lunch before heading to Santa Rosa.

On our October trip, we’d spied an interesting looking restaurant that we wanted to try. La Mar is a Peruvian ‘cebicheria.’ (I don’t know if that’s actually a word. I couldn’t find an official definition online. But by implication, it’s a restaurant that specializes in ceviche.)

The weather was pretty nice, and we asked for a table on the semi-enclosed patio overlooking San Francisco Bay. The patio was well populated, but the rest of the restaurant was pretty empty. (It did fill in later during the lunch hour.)DSC00275

La Mar offers a daily tasting menu. On our visit, there were two choices, one of them vegetarian. The items offered on both menus were very intriguing and looked interesting. I had the non-vegetarian option. One word: Fabulous.

My lunch started with a classic ceviche. It was yellowtail cured with red onion and habanero and served with Peruvian corn and yam. Also on the artful plate was a small serving of ‘causa.’ This is another word that’s not too easy to find, but I take it that it’s a fancy mashed potato. My ‘causa Limena’ featured Dungeness crab (a Bay Area specialty) on whipped potatoes with avocado puree and a sauce.

The entrée was fresh fish with red onions, tomatoes, cilantro and mashed yucca with a pungent sauce. The dessert was a Peruvian purple corn sorbet.

My wife had a hard time picking an entrée for lunch. She finally chose quinoa chaufa (another difficult word to find a definition for). A ‘chaufa’ apparently is a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese cooking. The quinoa chaufa essentially was quinoa served in the style of fried rice. Her dish had peppers, onions, mushrooms, bean sprouts, egg, noodles and mixed seafood.

Before I end this review, I have a comment about the service. At first, our server seemed impatient with Linda’s indecision about what to order. He seemed exasperated that she was having a hard time picking something. But in the end, he made up for it by serving her a bowl of the Peruvian purple corn sorbet like I had, no charge.

So this was a great lunch. Excellent preparation, a cuisine that’s a little unfamiliar to us, beautiful location in one of our favorite cities. I think it was Linda’s favorite meal of the trip. I have a hard time picking a lunch as my favorite meal. I’ll save that designation for another review.

No comments: