Stepping into La Cusqueñita is like entering a cosy cantina in the city of Cusco
Photo: Maison Moderne
Tucked away under the footbridge that connects Bonnevoie with the railway station, a small and unassuming Peruvian restaurant is attracting healthy lunchtime crowds.
Stepping into La Cusqueñita is like entering a cosy cantina in the city of Cusco, from where the owners originate. The dining spaces--we recommend the smaller room at the back, with its kitsch but fun parrot-themed diorama--are simple but comfortable.
A spicy ají amarillo dip and basket of bread await diners and Anton, the owner, is quick to arrive and explain what is on offer. The restaurant has a menu du jour that changes every day, featuring soup, usually vegetarian, as a starter and choice of two main courses. On our visit, these are roast chicken with almonds and pine nuts or fish cooked in the “Amazonian fashion”. At just €12.30, the menu du jour is a steal.
The à la carte menu is limited to just three dishes of the week--one meat, one vegetarian and one fish--which are also all priced under €20.
A traditional ceviche comes cut in nice chunks that enhance the texture of the fish--much more satisfying than the small dice or thin slice favoured by some chefs. The flavour of the fish is wonderfully balanced with the fruity sharpness of the lime in which it has been marinated. It is served with thin strips of red pepper, thick slices of soft green sweet potatoes and delightfully pleasing pops of grilled corn that add another dimension to the dish. The other main we try is a generous plate of sautéed chicken with quinoa and vegetables including spring onions and peppers, that is packed with earthy flavours.
Anton enjoys chatting with diners, but not at the cost of neglecting the rest of the room. Service at lunchtime is efficient and friendly, and we find time to share a dessert--a guava cake that oozes with the juices of the cooked and ripened fruit. The cake itself is a little dry, but that is the only fault in what is otherwise a superb and unpretentious meal.
We shall return one evening to enjoy more than the single bottle of the Cusqueña beer we permitted ourselves at lunchtime--and to try the selection of cocktails and wallow in the cantina atmosphere. Meanwhile, if you are in the Bonnevoie area and want to try something different, we cannot recommend La Cusqueñita enough.