Tag Archives: Tasting Menu

Central: Is This the Most Unique Tasting Menu in the World?

Central

  • When: September 2017
  • Male DINK Rating: 12/15
  • Female DINK Rating: 13/15
  • Total Cost: $428; Food Cost: $315

THE MOST exclusive, MOST difficult to reserve, MOST-acclaimed restaurant in Peru, Central was the most important reservation for us to book when we decided to go to Lima. Refreshing the reservation page at 11:58pm (the block of reservations for a certain time period go on sale at midnight), we saw the reservations open up and were able to secure a table for 7 p.m. on a Monday night. After speaking with a few fellow travelers throughout our trip, we didn’t realize how lucky we were to get a table. Perhaps the early refresh and choosing a Monday were the keys to our success.

Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Waiting in line for Central to open

We arrived a few minutes early to a line of eager diners waiting outside the door. A few minutes past 7 p.m., the door opened, and we were shown to our tables in turn. We were lucky to be seated at a table next to the floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing the kitchen, having a front-row seat to dinner service throughout our meal. As we sat down at our table, the kitchen staff was having a meeting to go over service. We saw Virgilio’s wife, Pia, leading the meeting and seemed to be providing some words of encouragement as the staff was smiling and and interacting enthusiastically.

Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Pre-dinner meeting led by Pia Leon

We perused the menu and ordered drinks. Female DINK had the Central Pisco Sour and Male DINK decided to order a glass of wine. While we waited for our drinks, we looked over the menu we would be served that night. The menu at Central is called “Mater Elevations,” and the dishes are all composed of ingredients from a certain elevation in Peru. A unique take on a tasting menu theme, it proved to be one of the more interesting meals we’ve had. Note there is also a vegetarian version of the menu, as well as a condensed, shorter version of the menu, available.

Central Pisco Sour Cocktails Drinks Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Central Pisco Sour
Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Central Mater Elevations Tasting Menu

As we waited for the first course to arrive, we took a look around the dining room where tables were filling up quickly.  We also watched the kitchen staff prepare the first dishes and noticed there was a flourishing garden above the kitchen.

Rooftop Garden Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
The garden atop the kitchen at Central
Dining Room Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Dining room at Central

Rock Molluscs” – sea snail, mussel, sargassum, limpet (-10 M). The snail & mussel combination (limpet is another type of snail) was in a separate container from its accompaniment –  a seaweed “chip” or “cracker” (sargassum is a type of seaweed). We were instructed to spread the snail & mussels atop the seaweed cracker. The crispy cracker was the perfect complement to the snail and mussel texture. Surprisingly edible.

Rock Molluscs Sea Snails Mussel Sargassum Limpet Seafood Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Rock Molluscs: Sea Snail, Mussel, Sargassum, Limpet – (-10) Meters

While we waited for the next course, we noticed that Virgilio was in the kitchen. Surprised (and fortunate) to see the popular and busy chef in the kitchen, we snapped a photo and watched him and his wife work.

Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Chefs Virgilio Martinez & Pia Leon working in the kitchen

Desert Plants” – huarango, cactus, sweet potato leaf, loche (180 M). Three different bites arrived on different platings – and all were quite good. The crispy sweet potato leaf was packed with flavor and had a nice saltiness, the frosty pink bite was tuna and cactus and was very tasty, but the best bite was the finely-shredded, crispy fried potato – delicious!

Desert Plants Huarango Cactus Sweet Potato Leaf Loche Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Desert Plants: Huarango, Cactus, Sweet Potato Leaf, Loche – 180 Meters
Desert Plants Huarango Cactus Sweet Potato Leaf LocheCentral Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Desert Plants: Cactus – 180 Meters
Desert Plants Huarango Cactus Sweet Potato Leaf Loche Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Desert Plants: Shredded Sweet Potato Ball – 180 Meters
Desert Plants Huarango Cactus Sweet Potato Leaf Loche Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Desert Plants: Leaf – 180 Meters

Lofty Andes” – potato, tree tomato, alpaca, muna mint (3500 M). A single potato cooked in ashes served with an exquisite dipping sauce. The potato was warm and calming, while the dipping sauce was bright and flavorful consisting of tree tomato, cream, muna mint, and alpaca hearts. The potatoes were outstanding for simply being a potato.

Lofty Andes Potato Tree Tomato Alpaca Muna Mint Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Lofty Andes: Potato – 3500 Meters
Lofty Andes Dipping Sauce Potato Tree Tomato Alpaca Muna Mint Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Lofty Andes: Dipping Sauce – 3500 Meters

Thick Stems” – olluco, chincho, onion, field mustard (3500 M). Two bites for this course – more, but very different, potatoes (olluco), as well as a straw-like roll filled with mousse. Again, great potatoes. It was interesting how different each type of potato could be from one another. The crispy roll was filled with a sweet, onion mousse that was very good. Additionally, there was a cup of savory liquid to drink served with this course – not sure what I’m drinking, but it is pleasant.

Thick Stems Olluco Chincho Onion Field Mustard Tubers Potatoes Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Thick Stems: Olluco, Chincho, Onion, Field Mustard – 3500 Meters
Thick Stems Olluco Tuber Potatoes Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Thick Stems: Olluco – 3500 Meters
Thick Stems Fried Onion Roll Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Thick Stems: Fried Onion Roll – 3500 Meters
Thick Stems Cup Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Thick Stems: Cup of Liquid – 3500 Meters

Waters of Nanay” – piranhas, cocona, achiote, huampo bark (680 M). Watch out for the teeth on this course! Just kidding…the edible part of this course is an orange crispy strip with piranha and dots of sauce. Quite salty, the strips didn’t have a lot of other flavors coming through. There was also a separate serving of piranha meat wrapped inside of a leaf. Definitely a wow factor presentation that left a little more to be desired on the actual flavor.

Waters of Nanay Piranhas Cocona Achiote Huampo Bark Fish Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Waters of Nanay: Piranhas, Cocona, Achiote, Huampo Bark – 680 Meters
Waters of Nanay Piranha Skin Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Waters of Nanay: Piranha Crisps – 680 Meters
Waters of Nanay Piranha Chunks in Leaf Fish Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Waters of Nanay: Piranha Chunks in Leaf – 680 Meters

Forest Cotton” – churo, gamitana, pacae, llanten (300 M). There were three parts to this dish – a slightly sweet, fruity “cotton,” a leafy roll, and a cup of mysterious contents. The cotton was light and refreshing, the roll was a llanten leaf filled with snails, and the cup was filled with an Amazonian extract that tasted savory.

Forest Cotton Churo Gamitana Pacae LLanten Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Forest Cotton: Churo, Gamitana, Pacae, LLanten – 300 Meters
Forest Cotton Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Forest Cotton: – 300 Meters
Forest Cotton Churo Roll Snails Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Forest Cotton: Churo Roll – 300 Meters
Forest Cotton Drink Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Forest Cotton: Drink – 300 Meters

High Jungle” – macambo, cassava, copoazu, air potato (2800 M). This appeared to be the bread course. Three types of bread (an airy, crispy chip, a small cassava bread, and a larger piece of fluffy cacao bread) with two types of spread (copoazu sauce and herb butter). We didn’t indulge too much on the large piece of bread because we had a long way to go in the menu, but we tried the others as well as the different spreads. The copoazu sauce was very good.

High Jungle Macambo Cassava Copoazu Air Potato Bread Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
High Jungle: Macambo, Cassava, Copoazu, Air Potato – 2800 Meters
High Jungle Coca Bread Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
High Jungle: Coca Bread – 2800 Meters
High Jungle Cassava Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
High Jungle: Cassava – 2800 Meters
High Jungle Air Potato Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
High Jungle: Air Potato – 2800 Meters

Marine Soil” – sea urchin, pepino melon, razor clam, seaweed (0 M). Alas, a course with only one dish! A very unique combination, the razor clam was hiding in the ribbons of melon and seaweed. The large pieces of uni were a welcome addition. A very fresh and sea-focused course.

Marine Soil Sea Urchin Pepino Melon Razor Clam Seaweed 0 Meters Seafood Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Marine Soil: Sea Urchin, Pepino Melon, Razor Clam, Seaweed – 0 Meters

Tree Skins” – avocado, huacatay, kanihua, macre (1200 M). A presentation of crisps, leaves, and flowers arrived. The crispy squash (Macre), avocado cream, crunchy quinoa (kanihua), and huacatay all complemented each other well both in flavor and texture.

Tree Skins Avocado Huacatay Kanihua Macre Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Tree Skins: Avocado, Huacatay, Kanihua, Macre – 1200 Meters

Land of Corn” – kculli, purple, chulpi, piscorunto (2010 M). Beautiful colors of corn crisps served atop deep fried corn balls. All sorts of corn, and all sorts of goodness. Who knew corn could be THIS good? One of our favorite dishes of the night, this was packed with intense flavor.

Land of Corn Kculli Purple Chulpi Piscorunto Vegetables Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Land of Corn: Kculli, Purple, Chulpi, Piscorunto – 2010 Meters

Colors of Amazonia” – paiche, yacon, bellaco, lemongrass (450 M). A wonderfully colorful dish, the pink ribbons are paiche – a fish from the Amazon river that can grow to be 10 feet long! The paiche was served atop the yacon, bellaco, and lemongrass. Beautiful, but a little strange.

Colors of Amazonia Paiche Yacon Bellaco Lemongrass Fish Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Colors of Amazonia: Paiche, Yacon, Bellaco, Lemongrass – 450 Meters

Coastal Harvest” – scallops, yellow chili pepper, borage, tumbo (20 M). Colorfully dusted crisps sat in tumbo sauce. The scallop crisp adorned with yellow chili pepper and borage was a very tasty combination. The spice of the chili pepper coupled with the sweeter flavors of the borage and tumbo sauce were a great juxtaposition to complement the scallop flavor. A really good dish.

Coastal Harvest Scallops Yellow Chili Pepper Borage Tumbo Fish Main Course Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Coastal Harvest: Scallops, Yellow Chili Pepper, Borage, Tumbo – 20 Meters

Sea Coral” – octopus, crab, squid, sea lettuce (-10 M). That is a lot of seafood in one dish! Octopus can hit or miss depending on the texture, but this was a hit and was prepared very well. We were a bit nervous about all of the “sea” in this dish, but it was surprisingly good.

Sea Coral Octopus Crab Squid Sea Lettuce Seafood Main Course Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Sea Coral: Octopus, Crab, Squid, Sea Lettuce – (-10) Meters

Low Andes Mountains” – pork, black mashwa, panca chili pepper, kiwicha (1800 M). Thought: Oh good, a meat course after all of that seafood! This was the last savory course and was beautifully presented. The pork was well-prepared and was enhanced by the supporting ingredients of spice, potato, and quinoa. Lots of flavors and lots of textures to round out this delicious meat course.

Low Andes Mountains Pork Black Mashwa Panca Chili Pepper Kiwicha Meat Main Course Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Low Andes Mountains: Pork, Black Mashwa, Panca Chili Pepper, Kiwicha – 1800 Meters

Humid Green” – caigua, cushuro, sweet lemon, chaco clay (3700 M). Definitely some different ingredients in this first dessert, we struggled a bit with the algae balls (which you can see Virgilio picking one by one in the Chef’s Table episode on Netflix). However, the sweet lemon was a nice flavor and the sorbet a welcome familiarity. The other strange ingredient was chaco clay, yes, actual clay. A bit challenging for a dessert, but a unique experience indeed.

Humid Green Caigua Cushuro Sweet Lemon Chaco Clay Dessert Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Humid Green: Caigua, Cushuro, Sweet Lemon, Chaco Clay – 3700 Meters

Amazonian White” – cacao, chirimoya, bahuaja nut, taperiba (400 M). The second dessert brought more familiar flavors, including chocolate. This dessert combined chocolate mouse with fruit and shaved nuts. Quite a concoction, we enjoyed the contrasting flavors of this dessert.

Amazonian White Cacao Chirimoya Bahuaja Nut Taperiba Dessert Chocolate Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Amazonian White: Cacao, Chirimoya, Bahuaja Nut, Taperiba – 400 Meters

Medicinals and Plant Dyes” – congona, matico, malva, pilipili (3050 M). We have finally reached the last course, which had a name that made us a bit weary. We were served two bites (a chocolate crisp and a piece of cake) as well as a green substance in a cup. The chocolate crisp was really good, and was dusted with matico and pilipili, which were both peppery. The piece of cake didn’t have a lot of flavor (or maybe we were distracted by the green liquid). The cup was filled with an herbal, medicinal concoction that was honestly difficult to drink. We can be sure it is a rare ingredient and can appreciate its inclusion on the menu, but this was a rather low note to end on. We couldn’t finish drinking it.

Medicinals and Plant Dyes Congona Matico Malva Pilipili Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Medicinals and Plant Dyes: Congona, Matico, Malva, Pilipili – 3050 Meters
Medicinals and Plant Dyes Congona Mango Malva Pilipili Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Medicinals and Plant Dyes: Chocolate Crisp & Cake – 3050 Meters
Medicinal and Plant Dyes 3050M Congona Matico Malva Pilipili Central Restaurant Lima Peru World's 50 Best Restaurants Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Chef Pia Leon Chef Virgilio Martinez Netflix Chef's Table Fine Dining Dinner Tastig Menu Foodie Restaurant Review South America Peruvian Food
Medicinals and Plant Dyes: Green Liquid – 3050 Meters

Summarizing our experience, eating at Central was one of the most unique menus we have ever tasted. The ingredients were truly Peruvian, and the courses provided a great appreciation for the diversity of the country. We can honestly say that you will not have similar food anywhere else. That alone makes this a worthwhile culinary journey; however, the food was also very good (besides the herbal drink at the end) and very artistic. If you haven’t seen the Chef’s Table episode about Central and Virgilio Martinez, it is a worthwhile episode to appreciate the story behind Central and what Virgilio (and his wife and sister) put into the restaurant. We would definitely recommend trying Central if you are able to make a reservation – it is a special place.

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