Osso is Lima’s “temple to meat,” a restaurant, butcher shop, and charcuterie. It was started in the suburb of La Molina, about 30-45 minutes from downtown Lima. There’s also a branch in San Isidro close to the financial district but we wanted to visit the mother church. Most tourists don’t venture much past Miraflores, Barranco, and maybe central Lima so this was a nice adventure and opportunity to see more of Lima.
We left a bit early in order to give ourselves some insurance for
unpredictable traffic, and as a result ended up about 15 minutes early
for our restaurant reservation. Since the restaurant wasn’t open, that
gave us an opportunity to explore the butcher shop. It’s eye
popping. There’s a salumeria towards the front. There are lots of
different salamis and other cured meats hanging for inspection. I was
particularly tempted by the lardo but it wasn’t practical to bring in
our luggage. As you move back you see cases with high quality fresh
pork and beef both from Peru and imported.
When you get to the back you are surrounded by refrigerated cases full
of aging beef. It’s an amazing display of love for dry aged beef from
just starting to 18 months old. Mostly ribs and loins, some wagyu,
lots of Peruvian but also plenty imported from the US. If you like dry
aged beef the place is very much like a temple. I went from case to
case saying “oh wow.”
By then the restaurant was open, so we took our seats. The restaurant
menu, unsurprisingly has lots of charcuterie. Pork, and beef but also
some prawns, chicken, and salad. This place does not really make any
attempt to cater to vegetarians though.
We had mollejas (sweetbreads), anticuchos (beef heart), a wedge
salad, chicharrones (fried pork), and chuletón de res (large
ribeye steak). This way way too much food, but so worth it.
The first appetiser, mollejas (sweetbreads) over camote (sweet
potato), was much larger than we had expected. It was five grilled
sweetbreads over camote puree, and reminded me a bit of the mollejas
at Cosme. Nicely griddled, well
balanced by the sweetness of the camote.
Next came the anticuchos. Anticuchos are practically the national
appetiser of Peru and I have them as often as I can. Pieces of beef
heart in a tangy marinade, skewered and grilled over hot
coals. Properly done the are crispy and brown on the outside, and
tender and juicy on the inside. Osso’s anticuchos are HUGE chunks,
served with potatoes confit in port fat (yum) and crispy potato skins
(yum) but as delicious as those were we knew that unfortunately
potatoes were to be the enemy.
Getting the anticuchos off the skewers was a bit of a challenge and
resulted in one of my more hilariously embarrassing moments. I was
trying to use a fork to slide one of the pieces of heart off the
skewer when it came free suddenly and flew behind the arm of the sofa
where I was seated. I looked around quickly to see if anyone had
noticed, “la la la, nothing to see here.” I pretended nothing had
happened and proceeded to remove the others by stabbing a piece of
heart with the fork and gingerly pulling the skewer out. Thank
goodness there were no more instances of flying meat.
Next we had three kinds of chicharrón. Chicharrón are “cracklings”
usually fried pork skin, but can also be pork belly, mutton, or beef
(or in Peru - fish!) These three were a pork belly confit for 6 hours
then roasted, dehydrated pork skin, and a pork belly “pachamanca”
style. The confit was a perfect blend of crisped skin, suave pork, and
browned roast flavors. The skin was a beautifully light and airy pork
crackling. The pachamanca was in a style reminiscent of traditional
hot stone cooking. Steamed with a slightly sour slightly pungent
ground green herb sauce that complemented the meatiness of the pork.
Chuletón de Res
Finally the piece de resistance. Peruvian rib eye steak dry aged for
200 days. The flavor of meat aged this long is concentrated from
losing so much moisture, and has a super funky umami from the
breakdown of meat protein and fat. If you have a taste for it there’s
nothing that can compare. Because of the long storage time, the weight
loss due to evaporation and trimming, and the limited audience, it
tends to be rare and expensive.
It was amazing.
It was a huge piece of ribeye, grilled to a perfect medium-rare. Not
rare, because in my opinion meat with this much fat needs to be warmed
enough so that the internal fat is softened, and rare won’t give you
enough time before the fat congeals. The aroma was intensely meaty and
funky from the aging, the flavor delivered on the promise of the
delicious cooking smells.
Salad and petits fours
We also had an iceberg wedge salad with blue cheese vinaigrette to try
to balance all the meat and fat, but it was hopeless. There was no way
we were going to be able to balance all of that, and in fact we ended
up taking about half of it home. We skipped dessert, but they brought
us some cute meringues with bacon caramel and crispy quinoa.
The whole place felt very male, and very USAdian with US music, signs
in english, and lots of homage to the US steak house.
Osso deserves every bit of it’s outsized reputation. It’s worth a trip out to La Molina.