Savour the City: Peruvian chef brings the flavours of his homeland to Elgin Street

Savour the City Elgin
A selection of dishes from Raphaël Peruvian Cuisine. Photo by Yvonne Langen
Editor's Note

Savour the City is an occasional column prepared by well-known local food and drink writer Yvonne Langen of Taste and Tipple celebrating all that is delicious in Ottawa.

At Raphaël Peruvian Cuisine, chef Lizardo Becerra invites diners on an exploration of Peru’s rich culinary tradition with a series of bold, innovative dishes that will surprise and delight your palate.

Photo by Yvonne Langen

Each bite transports you to a different region with flavourful riches from the coastal, jungle and mountainous microclimates of Peru.

Having worked in renowned kitchens like Central Restaurante in Lima, Becerra cuts a path all his own in the Ottawa food scene. After running a successful takeout business in City Centre through much of the pandemic, followed by a brief stint in the ByWard Market, Becerra is clearly acclimating well to the spacious new dine-in location at 200 Elgin St. 

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The space formerly belonging to Clocktower Brew Pub has been transformed into a welcoming verdant environment with a sprawling lush green velvet banquette, marble tables and tropical plants. The playlist is dominated by Latin music that will have you shoulder-dancing as you sip on a pisco cocktail. 

Tartare Amazzonico at Raphaël Peruvian Cuisine. Photo by Yvonne Langen

On my most recent visit, I started my epicurean journey with the “tartare amazonico” — a delectable salmon tartare served in a puckery coconut tiger’s milk (a classic Peruvian citrus-based marinade used to cure the fish). This is a vibrant dish in every sense of the word. It is artfully presented with thinly sliced starfruit and radish that offer visual appeal and texture, while charred wedges of creamy avocado temper the acidity of the marinade.

I also sampled the “anticuchos,” marinated flank steak skewers, which were perfectly toothsome, topped with a bright, herbal chimichurri, accompanied by roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts.  

For mains, I opted for the ceviche and the Peruvian fried rice with shrimp. The ceviche is comprised of Ocean Wise B.C. rockfish, lightly caramelized sweet potato, toasted chulpe corn, and tiger’s milk. It is an explosion of flavour and textures and the best example of this foundational Peruvian dish I’ve ever had. The rockfish could benefit from a smaller dice to make it easier to scoop up with the crispy shards of plantain with which it’s served.

Ceviche Raphaël. Photo by Yvonne Langen

The Peruvian fried rice is dotted with peas and red pepper, served with a lobster reduction, salsa criolla and topped with Pacific blue shrimp. This dish was also the perfect combination of salt, fat and acid and didn’t take long to devour.

The food experience was equally matched by a thoughtfully curated and well-balanced cocktail list showcasing Peru’s signature spirit — pisco. You can sip on a great example of the hallmark pisco sour or explore other drinks made with gin, tequila or rum, complemented with uniquely Peruvian ingredients such as aji amarillo and soursop.

Service was attentive and knowledgeable as I sought clarity on some new-to-me ingredients. On my first visit, dessert was an underwhelming dulce de leche jelly roll. The cake was dry and the flavours were dull in contrast to the punchy palate pleasers elsewhere on the menu. Upon my return, the dessert options had changed and I was delighted by a cloud of zingy soursop meringue served with house-made gelato.

Yvonne Langen is the food and drink content creator behind Taste & Tipple. She is also a regular fixture on TV and radio as a lifestyle expert. You may have previously read her work in Ottawa Magazine. 

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