I’ll be the first to admit that I love BBQ, grilling up some of God’s tastiest creatures slathered in sauce in great company epitomizes summer. I also like the “idea” of BBQ; blue skies, thermostat at 35 with the humidity but we chose to stand outside in the blistering sun to cook next to a box of raging fire emanating 300+ degree heat; this doesn’t make sense, but it does, and we do it. We do it, we love it, we enjoy it and do it in the name of summer. Take the BBQ out of this context, and I’m a raving lunatic bitching about the heat and weather.
My recent post about Peruvian food sparked a peculiar interest which resulted in an immediate MSN message from a buddy of mine who was relaying a message from his Peruvian girlfriend. “It’s PURPLE corn, not BLUE… Jerk.” I was all, “chill mija, it looked purple in the glass.” No, the conversation didn’t really go like that, she was actually quite nice and recommended another Peruvian place that she thought I should check out.
We all made plans and decided to go Eche pa Echarle on St. Hubert. According to them, they specialize in fish and seafood so I called them on this claim. I looked over their very extensive menu, from their soup section to specialty grill and roasted chicken section. What caught my eye was the ceviche section. We placed our orders and waited for the magic to happen.
We decided to split a large 2.25 liter bottle of Inca Cola. If you’ve never had Inca cola before, the ingredients are exactly what you think they are: water, sugar and yellow… sweet delicious yellow. In all fairness, I’m certain that it’s the yellow that gave this drink it’s cream soda flavor. We chose this over the table-top wine suggestion.
Complimentary fried plantains and chili sauce. Not too hot, but definitely not mild. Like any other hot sauce, start slow before you ruin the pallet and everything tastes like wax.
We split the Jalea de mero con mariscos (fried grouper fillet with seafood). Shrimp, calamari and squid, topped with pickles onions and cancha this appetizer for one, fed three.
My bud ordered the Picante con mariscos (rice with seafood, mussels, shrimp and squid). It came with a a side of pickled onions and salad as well as a potato in a creamy huancaina sauce. Seafood wasn’t overcooked and what I liked most was how fragrant the rice was. This subscribes to one of my ultimate testaments… Any good sauce MUST be accompanied by a sopping vessel.
The lady had the grilled chicken leg. Very flavorful and juicy, but uneventful. To write something enthusiastic to say about a chicken leg it would have to get off the table, cluck and then feed itself to me.
I had the Ceviche Mixto with onions and yucca. A civiche of mixed seafood and herbs – shrimp, fish, squid, octopus, clams, scallops and surf clam – a true medley of seafood. It was extremely fresh; the seafood did not taste defrosted (maybe the fact that Jean Talon Market was right around the corner has something to do with this). Having raw seafood being “cooked” with acid (lime) might sound a big adventurous, but when it’s done right, it can be quite exciting.
Eche pa echarle was a great option on a hot summer night. The dishes were incaredibly tasty and filling. The flavors practically jumped off the plates, especially with the civiche; I’m not aware of Peruvian custom, so I wasn’t sure if it was frowned upon to pour the civiche liquid into a glass and drink it, so I didn’t. Like Outkast said, so fresh and so clean… don’t take that lightly, even though they’re also the ones that said roses smell like poo.
Funny story, this restaurant has been on my list for quite a while now. I had made plans to go with a friend of mine but every time we were supposed to go, something came up and we never ended up going. I took this as a sign and that it was destiny; I wasn’t meant to go and this restaurant will (had it passed the test) never be featured on this blog… until… another friend, totally unrelated was recommended this restaurant and asked me to go. We made plans and the stars aligned, the restaurant in question is Villa Wellington in Verdun.
A local Peruvian joint on the main strip of Verdun, Villa Wellington is on Wellington street. Whether or not it was named after it’s location, I’m not sure, or maybe named after a lesser known Peruvian dignitary, Gilbert Wellington.
With a list of recommended dishes in hand we started ordering.
We started with a potato dish called Causa. It was a generous scoop of fluffy yellow mashed potatoes topped with mayonnaise and vegetables in a creamy dressing. We were both really surprised, as we weren’t expecting a colorful deconstructed potato salad. Tangy and savory, the potatoes were boarder line creamy, if that’s even possible.
We then ordered the small dish of Jalea. This dish encompassed everything perfect for a summer nighttime meal, seafood and FRIED. This dish is a trio of shrimp, calamari and fish, with a bonus player of potatoes.
The batter was perfect, not too thick, and thin enough to add a nice bit to the seafood. I especially appreciated the onion slaw on top that had just the right amount of vinegar to cut through the oil and heaviness of the batter. Like I said, this was the small order, and were told that it’s a personal portion, and the large was meant for two. As you can see, they obviously meant it would be enough for one person, should that person be a professional wrestler or a reality show reward challenge.
Next up was the Escabeche de pescado. Fried fillets of sole in a sweet and mildly spicy sauce with onions and half a hard boiled egg. Really fragrant fron the herbs and spices in the sauce. I’ve had a more traditional version of this dish where it was served cold and was brined with vinegar and lemon juice overnight. I guess this is another version of the same dish, or their own spin on it. Either way, really good, and really not fishy.
Any dish that comes with a nice sauce, NEEDS RICE! It only makes sense! Nothing spectacular. It was rice and it was white. Perfectly fluffy to get bogged down and sop up that delicious sauce.
We also ordered a pitcher of this traditional Peruvian drink, “Chicha”. This drink looks like wine or grape juice but is completely the opposite. Sweet with cane sugar and refreshing, you would never think this drink is made with CORN… purple corn.
To give you a perspective of the portion size, this is what our table looked like. Either it’s a question of physical plate size or portion, the pinch in my back for the rest of the night as a result of eating at an angle was well worth it.
One of the few places to have temporary summer/parking spot terrasse on Wellington, and this was perfect for a great Montreal summer evening. Their traditional Peruvian menu peaked my interest and I’m definitely coming back to explore some more… however the “Canadian” section threw me off as it listed chicken souvlaki… but that’s besides the point. It should also be noted that there is a special terrasse table d’hote.