Kjolle is the sister restaurant to
Central, the most famous
restaurant in Lima. It’s the project of Pia León, co-chef and partner
with Virgilio Martínez in Central. Despite being co-chef and partner,
she usually doesn’t get as much credit. With Kjolle she will hopefully
get the showcase she deserves.
It’s a more intimate space, light and airy, and a menu that includes
both a la carte and a tasting menu. Apparently she was originally not
going to offer a tasting menu at all but I’m glad she did. We got to
try a lot more of her dishes. The techniques are impeccable but it
feels more personal - the chefs come out to introduce some of the
dishes and there’s less pomp and more personal attention. It felt
friendlier and welcoming.
The dishes are still hyper-focused on Peruvian ingredients but not
constrained by the “altitudes” and regions concept of Central. Instead
she has a free hand to combine the ingredients that make the most
sense for the dish at hand. This means, for example, that you can find
seafood combined with Andean fruits or cacao.
The standout dish was a three tuber tart. Oca, olluco, and
potato. Everyone knows that potatoes come from Peru and that there are
a lot of different varieties of potato. What is less well known is
that there are a lot of other relatives of the potato that are also
delicious and eaten in Peru. Oca and olluco are crunchier and sweeter
than potato and are usually not mashed. Kjolle makes them into a tart,
the shell I’m sure made from an interesting native grain that I didn’t
catch, the base a potato puree (with goat cheese?), and on top, thinly
sliced crunchy cooked oca, and topped with dehydrated olluco. The
contrasting textures, complementary flavors, and natural colors worked
really well together.
We had arrived early so we got to spend some time in Mayo, the bar
downstairs. I was very excited to see all the interesting infusions
and ferments they’re doing. I tried a wrinkled lemon and aji pepper
non-alcoholic ferment, while Debbie had a house fermented ginger
ale. Lemon and capsicum flavors are a personal favourite of mine and
combined nicely with the yeast and fermentation flavours. I sipped it
through most of the meal. It’s a nice place to just hang out and worth
showing up a little early for.
I really enjoyed Kjolle. It’s easier to get in to, the food is just as
exciting and technically excellent as Central, and it’s a warm