Last month, Melbourne’s third Peruvian restaurant opened smack bang in the middle of the CBD.  Pastuso has been started up by the group that opened the highly successful Argentinian beef house, San Telmo, almost 3 years ago.  They’ve brought in world-renowned Peruvian chef, Alejandro Saravia of Sydney’s Morena and due to the quality of the food, the convenience of its location and the downright sexiness of the establishment – everyone’s talking about it…

Pastuso is bringing authentic Latin American food to our palates, and the stunning interior design is guided by Peru’s geography.  Their grill & roasting station represents the Andes where they house their special clindro peruano (Peruvian smoker) & charcoal pit.  The cervicheria represents the coast.  And the pisco bar, serving up Peru’s trademark brandy, represents the jungle.  In contrast to Pastuso’s sleek interiors is the graffiti along ACDC Lane.  Pastuso may be South American but it’s certainly fitting in wonderfully with our multicultural city…

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We had no idea what to order, and with no set menus available, we decided to have some fun – a lot of fun.

Cancha serrana y los chifles – Traditional Peruvian roasted Andean corn & plantain chips ($4) pastuso 1280-2

We ordered these for our son but they were really good.  Everything was well seasoned and the fried corn was hard and crunchy like wasabi peas but not spicy, just lovely and salty with the sweetness emanating from the corn.

Rollo de cerdo – Pastry filled with smoked marinated pork & aji mirasol puree ($7)

pastuso 1280-9This was similar to a spring roll except the filling was amazing as was the sauce that came with it.

Papitas rellena de carretilla – Street cart style potato croquettes filled with pulled beef brisket, pecans, botija olives, watercress & pickled onion salsa ($12) pastuso 1280-8Hands down the tastiest croquettes I’ve ever had.  Lovely and crunchy on the outside with so much flavour and tender love within.

Pan de quinoa – House made quinoa & corn bread served with infused olive oil ($5) pastuso 1280-17I’d never had quinoa bread before but it surprisingly super soft and not at all grainy.  Such a light, unique bread with beautiful seasoning on top and lovely olive oil to accompany it.

Ceviche Peruano – NZ snapper with caramelised sweet potato, cancha, leche de tigre ($18) pastuso 1280-4This is supposed to be their trademark ceviche.  It was gorgeous with huge chunks of NZ snapper, served on thin slices of sweet potato, and gorgeous crunchy Andean corn on top.

Inca maki roll – Quinoa & sesame roll, fish, pickled cucumber, spiced avocado & panko crumbs ($13) pastuso 1280-5Wow.. this was incredible Peruvian sushi!  I’m a huge fan of what Pastuso is doing with quinoa – completely reinventing ways of utilising this amazing superfood.  And I loved how the avocado was laced with jalapenos.  Delicious.

La papa la huancaina a mi manera – Potato gnocchi with a traditional huancaina sauce, botija olives and egg white ($16) pastuso 1280-11The gnocchi was pillow-y soft and the creamy sauce was subtle.  It wasn’t overtly cheesy, it was gently spiced.  Although I had no idea what the spices were, it was a dish that made me think – it made me slow down, chew, and enjoy the nuances of the dish.

Chicharron de cerdo tierno – Slow cooked pork belly, pickled daikon salsa, sweet potato & orange puree ($16) pastuso 1280-13This was incredible.  Lovely and crispy on the outside and decadently soft and flavoursome within.  The sauce reminded me of one of the purees that I make for my 6-month-old daughter but it surprisingly pulled the entire dish together very nicely.

Las papas y vegetales pachamanqueros – Potatoes, pumpkin & carrots roasted in paperbark and served with pachamanca sauce ($11) pastuso 1280-15We thought this would be more interesting but it was boring and left us a bit disappointed.  Having said that, all of the other dishes were really really fabulous.

Dessert tasting plate – Selection of desserts to share ($20) pastuso 1280-19Although by this stage my husband, son & I were completely and utterly full, we opted to try some Peruvian sweets to see what they were all about.  The platter included their amazing tres leches with roasted pineapple ice cream, milk chocolate mousse and white chocolate mousse, meringue & their un clasico de mazamorra y arroz con leche which was a Peruvian style rice pudding with purple corn gel and poached pineapple and apples.  It was definitely worth ordering.

All in all, our family of four had a fabulous meal at Pastuso.  What a sensational introduction to Peruvian food.  It’s definitely left us wanting more…

19 ACDC Lane
Melbourne  VIC  3000
03 9662 4556

Pastuso on Urbanspoon

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