Here's what a 12-course meal at Lima's Central - one of the best restaurants in the world - looks and tastes like
I don't know about you, but I tend to plan my travel itineraries as much around food as I do around historical and cultural landmarks, museums, and sightseeing.
This was true when I scoured through the streets of Chandni Chowk in old Delhi to sample some of the best Mughlai cuisine last fall, or when last summer, I dragged my best friend to Alfredo Alla Scrofa in Rome, a restaurant that claims to have invented the Alfredo sauce.So when I booked my plane tickets to Peru earlier this year shortly after watching Netflix's "Chef's Table," trying to score a reservation at the famed Lima restaurant Central was an absolute no-brainer. (This is no easy feat, mind you, as reservations run out months in advance. Try and book at least three months ahead.)
Central Restaurante is the brainchild of chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz, and holds the enviable title of the sixth best restaurant in the world. Located in the hip, bohemian neighborhood of Barranco in Lima, it is known for its modern and contemporary interpretation of Peruvian cuisine that puts an avant-garde spin on the country's native ingredients, elevating them to new heights.
The restaurant is part of a larger gastronomical complex run by Véliz and his co-owner, chef, and wife, Pia León. This includes cocktail and quick bites at bar Mayo, León's new restaurant Kjolle, as well as Central's research arm, Mater Iniciativa, where a team of researchers studies a diverse range of ingredients sourced from across the country.
The dishes are composed of bold ingredients that are brought to life in ingenious ways, offering a whirlwind tour of Peru in just a couple of bites. The food isn't just delicious for the most part, but a piece of art - quite literally - with each dish's presentation being as unique and whimsical as the ingredients that make it come together. You don't always know what you're eating and have probably not tried some of the ingredients before, but that's what makes the journey even more exhilarating.
Central isn't merely a restaurant; it's an unparalleled culinary experience unlike any other that I would highly recommend to anyone that happens to find themselves in Lima. Here's a tour of the latest 12-course tasting menu at Central, and what it is like: