Restaurant Review by Don Fowler
There were no guinea pig dishes on the menu at Los Andes like we enjoyed on our vacation in Peru, but there was squid and octopus and rib eye and plantain and dozens of other Peruvian and Bolivian delicacies to choose from.
Daughter Robin took us to 903 Chalkstone St., Providence, in one of the most unusual spots for a high-end ethnic dining experience, nestled among three-deckers, small shops and bars.
After valet parking in a lot across the street, signs led us to the entrance at a series of doors in an old brick building with hallways in directions that lead to a variety of rooms and a wide hallway, all scattered with tables that can seat 240… more when the weather leads to outdoor dining.
We ate in one of the hallways next to the huge fishpond. Rain fell on plastic ceilings. Lights bounced off clear plastic walls, creating a kaleidoscope atmosphere.
Service was immediate and friendly, with water and menus immediately brought to the table and a knowledgeable waiter patiently there to explain Spanish words we had never heard before. The rolls were warm and fresh, accompanied by warm oil.
The four of us skipped the long list of Peruvian cocktails and went for our traditional drinks. I always judge the bartender by his/her martini and this one passed with flying colors.
The appetizer list was long and varied. Robin, who had been there before, suggested the chicken and sort rib empanadas, ($4 each) served hot with a crispy crust and accompanying sauces, plus a quinoa salad with veggies, mixed in a sweet, tasty dressing, which we shared ($15).
I had the paella, Peruvian version, loaded with flavored rice, hot sausage, and a generous quantity of squid, octopus, clams, mussels, chicken. (And other morsels of the sea I couldn’t pronounce $31.)
Mike had a roasted pork dish ($25) over rice and veggies that melted in your mouth (he gave me a small piece).
Robin chose the Black Angus (16 oz. – $39) rib eye steak over a different flavored rice with plantains and topped with a fried egg. Mike ate the egg. She gave me a bigger piece, always taking care of Dad. It was tender, juicy and accompanied with a spice I couldn’t identify, but loved.
Joyce won the prize for most variety, ordering Los Andes special 903 Tasting, which consisted of three overflowing dishes. First was the ceviche, a mixture of chilled Peruvian fish that was her favorite. The second was a dish of fried fish, and the third a paella style dish of rice, shellfish, chicken, squid, shrimp and octopus. ($40) She ate the “Take home” for the next two days.
Los Andes opens at 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday with a special brunch on Sunday. Go online to check out special times.
The restaurant has become one of the popular destinations in Rhode Island so reservations are strongly recommended Call 649-4911 or make them online.
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