Astrid y Gastón is the third of the “Pellegrino Top 50” restaurants in
Lima, and felt the friendliest and was the most “fun.” It’s in a
magnificent colonial building, with a big garden out front filled with
vegetables, herbs, and flowers attracting bees and birds. A lovely
place to wander around.
Inside it’s much larger than you might think at first, with three
separate kitchens (hot, cold, and pastry) and multiple rooms that can
seat 200 people for dinner. Lunch is served in the blue room facing
the hot kitchen, a bright airy space with hanging plants.
The menu is inspired by the cultural influences of Lima’s food
history, blending native, colonial, chifa (chinese), and nikkei
(japanese) influences. It starts with witty “indecent bed, forbidden
love” appetizers served on a disheveled ceramic bed. From there it
goes on to explore dishes that seem familiar at first - peking duck
for example - but taken to a new level, in this case the crispy
skinned cuy or guinea pig, and served on a wrapper that is
reminiscent of a peking duck pancake but made from maíz morado the
iconic peruvian purple corn. All of the dishes call back to one or
more of the distinct heritages - “bloods” - that make up Lima.
The meal ends with a pastry tour de force. The star of the show is a
“potato” sitting in dirt. The potato is actually a shell around a
saffron foam enclosing a custard that has an embedded surprise. It’s
witty, but importantly, it’s delicious. Then after the three
desserts, you are presented with a wooden box that opens, and opens,
and opens, displaying an overwhelming abundance of chocolates and
other petits fours, all made on the premises and you’re invited to
help yourself to as many as you like.
The menu here is as inventive as any of the finest restaurants in
Lima, but the humor and love are unmatched.