A Visit to Raymi Peruvian Kitchen and Pisco Bar
This past weekend, we had plans with a friend of mine who had recently traveled to Ethiopia so we could catch up on the happenings of her trip. Restaurant week was going on and we decided to try the Raymi Peruvian Kitchen and Pisco Bar located at 43 West 24th Street (right near Eataly). Because of restaurant week, they had a special prix fixe menu. A table had to either entirely participate or not, so we decided to participate since it seemed like a pretty good deal (3 courses for $38).
Now, when Roberto and I arrived, we were a little bit earlier than our friend G, so we sat at the bar. This place is absolutely beautiful from an ambience/design perspective. I have copied some of the photos from their website, since I didn’t take any of my own.
As you walk in through a long hallway, you are greeted by the hosts/hostess and then enter the first space, which houses the main bar (photo above) and a ceviche bar, which is kind of like a sushi bar, except it is where all the fresh ceviches are prepared. The ceilings are so tall, it must be at least double height in there if not more, which creates a wonderful vast feeling in the space.
We sat down and waited for G at the bar. Since we aren’t doing any hardcore drinking these days, I had a club soda and Roberto tried a Passion Fruit juice. Another option on the non-alcoholic drink list was something called a Chicha Morada. We were naturally curious as to what it was, so we asked the bartender – eh hem, excuse me – we asked the MIXOLOGIST what it was and he said it was made from a purple corn, traditional in Peru, mixed with other fruit juices, and made fresh right there. Later, G tried it and she let me have a sip; I wasn’t a big fan. The taste didn’t really pop. It sort of fell into a flavor category I like to call murky dishwater. But I guess some folks really like it and apparently it is good when mixed with alcohol.
When G joined us, we were seated in the main dining room, which was also quite lovely. She told us all about her trip and an excursion they took to Zanzibar in Tanzania. She complained about how the colonial sentiment still exists there among the white business owners. The trip sounded so interesting. Meanwhile, we had ordered our ceviche appitizer course. I had the HALIBUT TIRADITO which came out on an elongated platter and consisted of sashimi style halibut with portions of fresh grapefruit. I felt that although it was good and the fish really fresh, I had mis-ordered, because what I usually love about ceviche was lacking. Namely, the merrying of all the acid and juicy stuff with the solid ingredients. The tiradito was really just the fish in its natural-most form without much seasoning. It would have been too gauche for me to try and slurp up the juice left in the plate after all the delicate pieces of fish were consumed!! Roberto had the CORVINA and G the TUNA special ceviche, which was not listed on the menu, but given as a verbal option. Those plates were more of a traditional style ceviche.
For the main dish, I chose the POLLO A LA BRASA. Have you been to PioPio?? They are a chain of Peruvian restaurants all over the city that focus on roasted chicken with a famous green sauce called aji verde. We are lucky that there is one practically across the street from our apartment because it is some of the best chicken ever. My dish was sort of a gussied up version of PioPio’s main meal. The chicken was mostly tender and had a smoky essence in the background. It sort of tasted like a roasted chicken mated with a kielbasa. The green sauce was good, as were the other accompaniments, especially the fried banana which tasted all gooey and carmelized (yum!). Those guys stuck with fish. There were two dishes on the tasting menu that costed an extra $5 bucks and those were the two that they tried. For Roberto, ARROZ CON MARISCOS and G the A LO MACHO. Both seemed to practically lick their plates!
Dessert was also included, so Roberto and I chose the traditional PICARONES which were a donut with a molasses sauce. G had the LUCUMA SUNDAE. I looked over at hers and had buyer’s remorse at my donuts because it looked so delicious.
Overall, a delicious and very elegant meal. But quite expensive. With the tip, despite restaurant week (and no alcohol was consumed) we spent about $185 for three people. I would reserve this place for a special occasion where you are trying to impress, because the space is so beautiful. For everyday really good Peruvian, I am glad that we have PioPio. Incidentally, the ceviche at PioPio is always quite good and very approachable.
Enjoy the remainder of restaurant week – which seems to actually be 2 or 3 weeks 😉 !