Monday, March 27, 2006

El Arlequí­n in San Isidro

Note: Sadly, this restaurant is now closed.

Original: Marí­a Elena Cornejo, CARETAS, 02/23/06
Click here to read the original article at Mucho Gusto PerÆ.

As a result of this blog, I have been fortunate to make the acquaintance of Marí­a Elena Cornejo, journalist and food critic for one of Peru's leading magazines, CARETAS.

On her blog Mucho Gusto Perú, Marí­a Elena posts some of her articles about food and the dining scene in Lima.

Very graciously, she has allowed me to translate and post her articles on this blog. I hope this expands your interest in Peruvian cuisine and of good places to eat when in Lima.

This first article I am translating is about a small restaurant, El Arlequí­n in San Isidro, that has been garnering rave reviews since its opening just a few short months ago.

I hope you have a chance to visit El Arlequí­n and sample some of the extraordinary fare Marí­a Fé and her husband Jorge have to offer.

Happy eating!

Spiritual and sensory enjoyment at
El Arlequí­n

By Marí­a Elena Cornejo

This charming European-style restaurant is part of the intimate Hotel Basquiat in San Isidro.

The entryway and bar are decorated with furnishings that used to belong to the Arteaga grandparents, now inherited by Marí­a Fé, who along with her husband Jorge, are your hosts at El Arlequí­n.

The library bookshelves form the backdrop of the bar, and a collection of antique weapons, pottery, and carved wood furniture harmoniously decorate the different rooms.

There are high ceilings with moldings and paintings of harlequins by Peruvian artist Victor Humareda (the name of the restaurant, El Arlequí­n, means The Harlequin). The owner's own colorful paintings provide a modern touch without detracting from the understated elegance.

The kitchen, under direction of chef Melvin Iriarte, who developed his craft under Gastón Acurio, Rafael Osterling, and at Sogo Room, offers a modern international menu, adapted for the palate of foreign visitors and local lunch time customers. There are no jarring flavors or surprising combinations.

They make a proper pisco sour here, both the traditional version, or the Arlequí­n sour made with plum-flavored pisco (with a lower alcohol content).


Starters include salads, ceviches, beef brochettes, and the classic causa stuffed with chicken. The star of the starters is a highly-recommendable tuna sashimi in shoyu sauce (made with sesame oil at an extremely high temperature) and served with sweet rice and avocado tartare.

The pastas are homemade and very good. I sampled the ricotta tortellini in almond sauce, and a fetuccini that accompanied a steak smothered in a blue cheese sauce, served alongside flambéed prawns. The mushroom risotto (made with three types of mushrooms) and also served with steak was spectacular, as was the tuna steak seared in sesame seeds and served with an Asian juice reduction and stir-fried yellow potatoes.

Ask your server for the day's dessert. Desserts generally include cheesecake, sherbets, or the classic Lima dessert,
suspiro a la limeña.

Sesame Chicken

The Hosts

For the past three months, Jorge Gálvez and Marí­a Fé Arteaga have been in charge at Hotel Basquiat (named as a personal tribute to the provocative American painter, Jean-Michel Basquiat) and its warm restaurant, El Arlequí­n (a tribute to yet another painter, the Peruvian Victor Humareda, whose depictions of harlequins the couple collects).

María Fé and Jorge

Jorge, who has a degree in Business Administration from an American university (where he landed thanks to a tennis scholarship,) and Marí­a Fé, who has a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from a school in Boston, respond to our Mucho Gusto Perú questionnaire:

MEC: Where do you shop for food?

In the Lince and Surquillo markets. For fish, in the Productores market. Also, at the Nikkei market on Conquistadores.

MEC: What's your drink?

Her: Red wine. Him: Pisco sour made with
quebranta-style pisco.

MEC: And your sport?

Her: Squash. Him: Tennis.

MEC: Name your one extravagance.

Him: Watching international tennis matches in the middle of the night.

MEC: And clothes?

Him: Informal. Her: Anything that looks good on me.

The Regular

Marita Tapia, one of the regulars at El Arlequí­n, says:

"I love the exotic dishes not easily found in just any restaurant. Here the dishes are served beautifully decorated. The presentation is very good, as is the service."

Asian-style Chicken

"One Sunday night, we closed down the house to throw a dinner party for some friends who were arriving from abroad, and everyone was delighted with the food. During the day, there is a private dining room where you receive a more personalized attention. That's very important because you can have meetings, showers, or celebrate birthdays, without bothering the other clients. My favorite dish is their shrimp
tacu tacu, made with fresh pallares beans, and served with a shrimp-based sauce."

El Arlequí­n
Avenida Dos de Mayo 1421, San Isidro
Reservations: 222-7744, 222-7743
Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday, only open for breakfast.
All credit cards accepted.
Median price: 30 soles.
Executive lunch special: 18 soles.
Corkage: No charge.
There is a basic wine list.
Smoking and non-smoking areas are available.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana


Unknown said...

La traducción es excelente y la presentación inmejorable. Muchas gracias por abrir al mundo estas ventanas del buen comer peruano.

::Alejandro:: said...

MEC: Para mi es un gusto poner mi granito de arena en la difusión de la comida peruana.



Anonymous said...

Felicitaciones!! La comida maravillosa y la atención espectacular.... Saludos BETTY

::Alejandro:: said...

Betty, me alegro que te haya gustado!