Everyone loves meat on sticks but let's take it next level - how about heart on a skewer? The Peruvians have been doing it for centuries, a dish called anticuchos that uses secondary cuts threaded onto skewers and grilled.
If you're not into hearts, there are plenty of other Peruvian delicacies to get into at El Amigo, a blink-you'll-miss-it family-run restaurant in Forest Lodge-slash-Glebe. There's the classic Peruvian ceviche ($18), chunks of fish cooked in lime juice; homemade beef empanadas ($4.50); and lomo saltado ($14), strips of beef stir-fried with tomato, onion and fried potatoes served with a side of rice.
El Amigo menu board
There's a little bit of something for everyone in this tiny cafe/restaurant. Burgers, steak sandwiches and chicken schnitzels cater for non-adventurous locals but the bulk of the menu is deliciously Peruvian.
The sign above the door reads "Mi Casa Est Tu Casa" or "my house is your house" and the casual relaxed vibe runs from the tables decked with traditional fabrics to the smiling women rolling empanada dough in the kitchen out the back. There's a constant flow of South Americans through the door too, all greeted like dear friends, so it really does feel like you've stumbled into someone's living room.
The pisco sour isn't on the regular menu (it's usually only made during special events or dinners) but if you ask nicely they might just comply. It's undertaken with meticulous seriousness and involves several minutes of vigorous cocktail shaking.
And really, it's one of the best pisco sours we've had, light and foamy from the egg white with a refreshing yet gutsy undertone of Peruvian pisco, lime juice and sugar syrup.
Cancha salada toasted Peruvian corn $6
Drinks need snacks, and we're excited to find cancha salada on the menu. This popular Peruvian snack uses a special type of corn, maiz chulpe, that doesn't bloom into fluffy popcorn even when toasted. Instead the kernels become airy but retain their shape. They're like a lighter fluffier version of corn nuts, and incredibly addictive.
Inca kola $3
They're out of sweet purple corn juice on the day we visit, but Inca kola is just as intriguing. It's somewhat disturbingly yellow in colour and it tastes nothing like the cola we know. Inca Kola actually uses lemon verbena as its key ingredient but it's hard to detect much of this. We find it tastes more like creaming soda.
Chicken tamal $8
We went with the chicken tamal, served out of its banana leaf wrapping, and garnished with a salsa of red onion and mint. The cornmeal parcel is warm and comforting, filled with shredded chicken, egg and olives.
Marinated ox heart served with potatoes, corn and huacatay chilli
I went straight for the ox heart of course, and the meat is surprisingly tender. The heart has been marinated in vinegar and spices, then cooked ever so briefly on the grill so the meat is still soft yet smoky. The saucer of huacatay chilli provides acidic balance against the strong flavour of the meat, but I'm a fan of this dish, and would definitely order it again.
Tres leches three milk cake
Desserts vary according to what's in the display cabinet, but we're in luck with a serve of tres leches three milk cake, a classic dessert popular across Mexico, Central America and South America. The sponge cake is soaked in three types of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream, and we relish the cake's saturated sponginess, oozing with dairy bliss.
Peruvian light roast $3.40
and Deep Passion blend dark roast $3.20
They take their coffee seriously here too, using single origin beans from Peru and Mexico. We went with espresso shots of their Peruvian light roast and their Deep Passion Blend, a dark roast that is rich, nutty and aromatic.
El Amigo have just started opening for dinner too. Get down there on Wednesday and Thursday nights for a little Peruvian love - eating of hearts not required.
View Larger Map
35E Ross Street, Forest Lodge, Sydney
Tel: +61 (0)402 938 007
Monday 9am - 3.30pm
Wednesday and Thursday 9am - 3.30pm then 6pm - 9pm
Friday 9am - 3.30pm
Sunday 12pm - 8pm
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Peruvian - La Parrillada, Petersham
Peruvian - Misky Cravings, Fairfield
Forest Lodge - In the Annex
Glebe - Badde Manors
Glebe - Flying Fajita Sisters
Glebe - La Banette Patisserie
Glebe - Tommy's Beer Cafe
20 comments - Add some comment love
12/15/2013 09:15:00 pm