Review: The Tree House Restaurant, Machu Picchu Pueblo
April 8, 2014
In a town of many mediocre restaurants and eateries, could the Tree House Restaurant in Aguas Calientes offer a glimmer of hope? Paul Jones, the editor of the Only Peru Guide went along for an evening meal and to review the restaurant.
A Quick Summary
A quirky 10 table restaurant located in a ropy part of Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo). Not quite a fine dining experience, but mouth-wateringly good Peruvian-fusion food. A top contender for best independent restaurant in Aguas Calientes, but touch on the pricy side!
Salmis de Lomo
A Restaurant in a Tree House?
Although the name might conjure up thoughts of waiters swinging from tree branches to serve your food, the reality of the Tree House Restaurant is really something quite different. In fact there isn’t a tree in sight! Rather, the interior décor features a complete lining of lightly coloured varnished wood, giving the restaurant a kind of tree-house feel. Located on a dimly lit and heavily stepped back alleyway, the Tree House Restaurant is situated right on the edge of Aguas Calientes towards the edge of the cloud forest. Unfortunately, due to the limitations and hap-hazard way that the town was constructed (no urban planning) the restaurant isn’t able to capture the glorious views of the surrounding mountains. In fact the main outside windows to the restaurant actually face an inner patio, and unfortunately not a cloud nor forest or indeed a tree for that matter can be seen from inside the restaurant.
When I asked the waiter how he would describe the menu, he eagerly told me “it’s Peruvian-fusion food, international dishes fused with local ingredients and flavours.” I had already scoured the menu on their website a few hours earlier (see the website link below), so I had a good idea of what I wanted to eat. However, as I read through the menu one more time in the restaurant, I found myself re-considering my earlier choices. Everything looked great, and with the exception of the Cuy (Guinea-pig) I don’t think there was anything that I wouldn’t have happily ordered. The menu had some really nice sounding options: kuchi ribs – grilled pork ribs in an elderberry and tamarind sauce; ravioli de camote – quinoa flour raviolis stuffed with sweet potato, Brazil nuts, and ricotta and parmesan cheese; trucha crocante – crispy trout in quinoa flakes, spicy elderberry sauce, mild yellow chilli served with blue cheese risotto. Needless to say, I held strong and stayed with my original choices.
For starters I ordered the criolla-Thai soup, a traditional Peruvian soup spiced up with chilli pepper and flavoured with lemon grass and coriander. It was excellent! The balance of flavour and spices was just perfect. I had just wished that there had been more (listen up restaurant owner!). My main dish was Salmis de Lomo, beef tenderloin in a black mushrooms and red wine reduction, served with homemade fettuccini in a creamy parmesan cheese sauce. I couldn’t fault it, it was excellent. The beef was tender and perfectly cooked to my liking, and the fettuccini was like it had been cooked by an Italian mama. For dessert the waiter recommended the passion-fruit pie, a good sized slice of home-made pie that cleaned my pallet with a huge citric kick to the mouth. It was really fresh and punchy, but one of those desserts that you wouldn’t want to eat too much of. Overall, you could say I was very satisfied.
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 Hostel Cusco for great food, sports and beer! Entrance to their bar is free even for non-guests
Although the waiter was a friendly chap, well-presented and polite, at times I felt a touch un-comfortable with the amount attention I was receiving. Perhaps it was because I was eating alone, or maybe because the restaurant was fairly quiet, I don’t know; but I did feel that the service was a touch overbearing. He was so focused on trying to charm me that he actually forgot to order my starter, bringing the main dish first! Opps!
The hard truth about the Tree House Restaurant is that it is just too expensive for what it is and there is better value in town. An evening meal at the Inkaterra Café (part of a luxury hotel) will set you back about the same money, and the hearty daily menu at the French owned Indio Feliz restaurant is roughly half the price. If money isn’t on your mind, I do highly recommend dining at the Tree House Restaurant. Overall I had a great dining experience and ate some really well-cooked food. If you are looking for a great place to dine after touring Machu Picchu, then I know that you too will enjoy the Tree House Restaurant.
Directions: From the main plaza in Aguas Calientes, take the small alleyway called Calle Collasuyo between the large municipal building and a small pharmacy. Then after just a short distance take the narrow stepped alleyway on the right hand side called Calle Huanacaure. The restaurant is about 20 yards up the hill.