We were delighted when a recent client of ours agreed to write an article on her recent visit to Lima´s premier restaurant Astrid & Gaston. Ranked number 18 in “The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants” list, we were eager to see what Kathie Larsen had to say.
By Kathie Larsen
We had heard wonderful things about the food at Astrid y Gaston in Lima, so decided to try to get a reservation there. We were only in Lima two full days, so on our first morning, we asked the concierge to book us a table that afternoon. Later, she said she was able to get us a table at 1:30. We were delighted – and a little surprised, as I’d heard it was difficult to get reservations.
We took a taxi to the restaurant, and, as we were a bit early, spent some time looking at the gardens where they grow many of their herbs and vegetables. At the appointed time, we presented ourselves to the person at the desk. He called a woman who said we had reservations for the tasting menu – was that correct? She told us the per person price and while it was expensive, it was sure to be a real experience. We had no idea we had reservations for the tasting menu, but love tasting menus, so said that was fine. She said the menu was based on the chef’s boyhood memories of foods he ate growing up. She escorted us into the kitchen and introduced us to the chef. We had a short chat, and she took us to our table. We were in a lovely room that had just three tables, two tables for two, one table for four. She asked us about any food restrictions, so they could customize the dishes to our needs. She also noted that the first dish was a drink with alcohol in it, and was that ok? Yes. Next came the sommelier. They had an option for wine pairings, were we interested? Our experience with wine pairings is that they are excellent, indeed. Since we were here, we might as well have the full experience.
The drink was made table side, started with a deep red liquid, then a ginger foam, then last, just the oil from a slice of lime skin. I have to say it was the best cocktail I’ve ever had. There were distinct layers of flavors.
This was a good introduction to how the meal would go. We were told us it would take about three hours for the meal. Each course was one or two bites, and we were often instructed as to how to eat it. The wine pairings were exceptional and included some very limited production wines. All of the wines were organic as well. The wine pours were small (thank goodness!) and a few of them were larger as they were for two courses.
ENTERTAINMENT TIP: If looking for fun at night, or to watch sports during the day, or even a taste of home, visit the Wild Rover Hostels Chain for great food, sports and beer! Entrance to their bars is free even for non-guests
This is very labor intensive – both preparation of the dishes and the serving. Both the food and the service were exquisite. What an experience!
If you aren’t interested in a three-hour lunch, it is possible to make a reservation for the a la carte menu. There are five kitchens in the complex, we saw the one where all of the gastronomic menu selections are prepared.
Our total for the 28 course tasting menu, matched wines and gratuity was 1452 soles, about US$ 484. Of course a similar tasting menu in the US or Europe would easily be twice the cost.
I note that another of my favorite restaurants, Gaggan in Bangkok, is listed right next to Astrid Y Gaston in Lima.
At the end of the meal, you receive a complete menu for both the food and the drinks, and a book that tells the story of the menu. Yes, this was a very expensive 3 hour lunch, but what an experience!
Cheryl took photos of most of the courses (I think she missed the first two). If you enjoy food photos, this blog post is for you: