For Ann’s belated birthday lunch last week, the legal beagles and the PAs headed off to El Amigo in Glebe. And a friend it certainly was with its welcoming, smiley service and flavour-packed Peruvian fare. Warm red walls are decorated with a few woven Peruvian hangings, plastic figurines of a guitarist and dancer pose atop the counter ready to burst into action, and there’s just three or four wooden tables at which to sit in this tiny sandwich-shop-cum-cafe.
Amanda’s special of ‘aji de gallina’, a traditional Peruvian chicken stew in a nut-based cream sauce, looks and tastes like a warm coronation chicken with its tangy, fruity flavour.
Ann goes for ‘higado encebollado’, beef liver schnitzel with sautéed tomatoes and onions. Mildly spicy and again quite tangy in flavour, the schnitzel is delicious and flash-fried very tender.
‘Cau cau’, which Clare chooses, is a typical Peruvian dish of beef tripe, diced potatoes and fresh herbs. I’ve never eaten tripe before so I try a piece; it’s just like a sort of soft, frilly calamari in texture, but I’m not overly keen on the sauce it’s cooked in here which has quite an earthy flavour.
My Peruvian ceviche comes about ten minutes after the rest of the dishes (which we were warned about) as it takes a little while for the fish to ‘cook’ in the lemon juice. There’s a very generous mound of tart, clean-tasting fish on a bed of iceberg lettuce, seasoned with cayenne pepper and topped with plenty of thinly sliced red onions and fresh coriander. It’s accompanied by sweet potato, corn and a few kernels of roasted Peruvian corn which are larger than regular corn kernels and have a dry, powdery consistency inside the husk and a pleasant nutty taste.
For dessert we share a plate of ‘picarones’, mildly spicy Peruvian doughnuts served warm and dripping in a honey-lemon flavoured syrup.
And as if that isn’t quite enough we each have one of the delicate little pastries sandwiched together with dulce de leche that I’ve been admiring under the glass counter; they look like the macaron of Peru. At only 50c each we could have happily popped in a few more.
The other three of us treat Ann to her lunch and even then it comes to only $20 each including a generous tip. What a great and unusual little find – thanks, Clare, for the suggestion!
35E Ross Street, Glebe
Visited 13 September 2012