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Andina


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Finally got in to Andina. Seemed like every time I went by before they either weren't open. Friday night, had to be open.

Very pleased with my experience. It's a nice room with arches and soft Latin-American colors. The booths and chairs are a little uncomfortable, but could be worse.

They bring you out a cool selection of breads. There's a french baguette style bread cut into slices, then the cool ones, little quinoa rolls and little purple corn rolls (at least I think that's what he said they were). These latter two are light with a nice texture. I'm supposedly going slow on carbs but just downed about a dozen or more of the things. The thing is, they also provide you with two salsas to put on them, one a passionfruit/mango salsa and the other a peanut-based salsa of some sort. Both were excellent. The first was had some okay heat, too.

Our waiter then brought us a complimentary apertif. I'm not sure if just ours (I told him we wouldn't be drinking) or everyones was non-alcoholic. They carry some sort of Peruvian brandy they use in many of their delicious sounding cocktails. I wouldn't be surprised if they normally put that in the drink. Anyway, it was very tasty. It's called a chicha morada (see here and is boiled corn with apples and spices. It tasted like hot apple cider with a little cranberry, though not as sweet as we might normally get it, maybe a tea version, that had then cooled. Very good stuff.

The have an extensive menu with appetizers, entrees, and ceviches, plus, although I don't drink, a cocktail list that made me wish I had (plus, $2 happy-hour appetizers for those who order cocktails). They have an adjoining more casual bar area that was very busy.

We ordered their naylamb ceviche ($7.50) and their chicharron novoandino de pollo ($5.50) for appetizers, their cordeito en marinado peruano ($20) and their pachamanca del inca ($25) for entrees. We split a passion fruit mousse for dessert (not sure on the price).

The naylamb ceviche was excellent, as I hoped since it is the national dish of Peru. If this place couldn't make a ceviche, I don't think I'd trust anything else. It came with squid, octopus, and shrimp along with yam, onions, greens, hominy, chiles, and a couple other bits in a passionfruit, I think, and tumbo (apparently the original fruit used to make ceviche prior to the conquest and the introduction of citrus; a relative of passionfruit; this is the only decent ref I could find on google here. It was very good, like I said. And I'm not inclined to like ceviche. Maybe it's the overly tomatoey Mexican versions I don't like. The octopus was great. It had a tooth to it, but was not chewy. There was no off flavor whatsoever. The squid wasn't quite as good, but not bad. The shrimp were excellent as well. When you got down into it, it had quite a kick, but an excellent flavor overall.

The chicharron de pollo was excellent as well. It was essentially chicken tenders in a quinoa crust rather than breadcrumbs or cornmeal or whatever. Very good. Big portion, too, especially for only $5.50. I don't think we would have gotten that much at Red Robin. It came with a tasty green sauce of some sort and some fried plantains. I forgot to ask what the sauce was made of. But if I had to guess, I would say avocado and other stuff. It was very good, though. There could have been more of the sauce for how much chicken there was. The quinoa on the outside was so light and crunchy, it was truly fabulous. It looked cool, too.

The lamb came as rack of lamb, probably about five ribs. It was cooked medium and came with an tasty sauce, a pisco infused resuction (apparently pisco is a special Peruvian wine, essentially, see here. The dish had an interesting side dish, fried yellow potato and cheese rolls. They came standing up on their long end, looking like two crispy McDonald's apple pies almost, or an empenada, at least in shape. They had a nice crispy exterior with a fluffy, rich interior. My wife, a mashed potato-aholic loved them. The dish also included fava beans and hominy.

I had the pachamanca del Inca, a stew with venison, quail, large white corn kernels, fava beans, potatoes, yucca and several herbs. It came served in a clay pot with their quinoa bread sealing the lid to the pot. They cut the bread open and remove the lid for you. Not many places in Portland have that kind of presentation, which comes across both organic and spectacular. The stew was good with a strong coriander element in both flavor and aroma. The venison was a rack piece and probably not the best choice. Afterall, it's a stew and so a less lean piece of meat cooked for hours so that it falls off the bone would be more appropriate. However, the quail quarter (leg/thigh) did fall of the bone and was tender and juicy. The broth was good and the aroma great.

For dessert we had the passionfruit mousse which came with raspberries and rapberry sauce. It was fine. Their dessert selection is a little lame, I think. Almost no real pastries. I assume they don't have a real pastry chef or for some reason they're doing something like 3 mousses, a cookie with some extras, and another dessert I can't remember. Bake something, damn it! You make good breads.

The service got a little spotty when they got busy (we got there about 5:30), but not bad. But overall the service was decent. They went out of their way to tell you about the dishes and their origins.

It's a very good value. Our entrees were easily the most expensive. The vegetarian entree was only $12.50 and was the low end. The other dishes ranged between $15 and $18. That puts it in a similar price range with Cafe Azul and The Heathman and makes it cheaper than many of the other nicer restaurants in town. And the appetizers were very large portions, really.

I'm very happy I tried this place. According to their website it sounds like they do a cool Sunday brunch with entertainment. Might have to try it. It's a nice, unique addition to Portland's food scene and I hope it stays around and only gets better.

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Thanks for the correction. I don't drink, just buy alcohol to cook with, so I'm not very aware, nor do I listen very well, when it comes up in conversation. I just heard "grapes" and think "wine".

I'm pretty interested in going to brunch at Andina some time. If anyone's been there for their brunch, is it as cool as it sounds or are they hyping it? From their website:

And for those who wish for a full immersion in Peruvian culture, we have elaborated a Sunday Brunch in the style of an "Almuerzo Criollo" (or Creole Lunch), featuring the food, music and art of the distinct regions of Peru.

They also have music and more it sounds like for 1st Thursday.

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Knorthrup and I tried them awhile back. The food was good and a good "not so ordinary" experience. It was different from anything I've had before. Tried two desserts, the rice pudding and the cookies, and wasn't thrilled with either. It's definately their weak spot. But the bar is a nice cozy place to hang and chat for a few hours. And the cerviche was very good!

Pamela Wilkinson

www.portlandfood.org

Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

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Knorthrup and I tried them awhile back. The food was good and a good "not so ordinary" experience. It was different from anything I've had before. Tried two desserts, the rice pudding and the cookies, and wasn't thrilled with either. It's definately their weak spot. But the bar is a nice cozy place to hang and chat for a few hours. And the cerviche was very good!

I really wish more ethnic restaurants would put more effort into pastries and desserts. At least Andina has excellent breads. That's one of the things that's so great about Pambiche is that they make a great effort at pastries. Even Italian places too often have the same old weak desserts. There are a lot of great flavors to work with in Asian, Latin American, and Middle Eastern cuisines that work wonderfully in desserts and have been used to great ends by American, French, and other European chefs. I know that many of these cultures don't have a very strong tradition of desserts, but that doesn't mean that they can't start using European techniques with their traditional flavors to create great stuff.

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Sweetish things are mostly just snack items in a lot of Asian cuisines or special occasion stuff. The idea of eating something extremely sweet, heavy and rich at the end of your meal is just not really done. I'm not so sure it's really a bad thing. You can get good sweet snack items at most Vietnamese restaurants, but most Americans don't think of them as "desserty" enough. I'm thinking of jackfruit, soursop or avacado smoothies or what I call chendol (mung bean noodles flavored with pandan and served with palm sugar syrup and coconut milk), various agar based desserts etc.

regards,

trillium

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True, Trillium, but the problem is that most of these places are serving by-and-large Americans, not their native peoples. I don't expect a Mexican place in Woodburn or an Asian place on mid-Sandy to have good desserts (by European standards), and wouldn't judge them less so if they don't. But places like Andina, Cafe Azul, Sungari, Pho Van, Plainfield's Mayur, and the like aren't serving people from their peoples generally. They're serving upper-middle class white people in nice venues. They have wine lists, European place settings, and menus in English. A good dessert menu would be nice, too. I'm not sure if any of these have a good dessert menu either. Cafe Azul's can be decent, but nothing special, though some of their ice creams are nice. Pho Van has a bread pudding that's good. At least Pambiche makes a real effort even if their case doesn't rotate that much and its very cake-heavy.

Edit: Corrected Trillium's name.

Edited by ExtraMSG (log)
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  • 2 years later...

Ok, time to bring this thread up to date. We had a beautiful dinner at Andina on Saturday, celebrating our anniversary. When making the reservation I'd mentioned the occasion, and they'd saved us a really nice table. The food was truly delicious, and the cocktail list was the best I've ever seen. Ok, I don't look at many cocktail lists, but this one was amazing.

Since I'm not normally a cocktail person, I usually would have had wine with this meal. But the cocktails sounded so exciting that I had to have them even with dinner, however un-Peruvian that might have been.

Here's just the "novelty" portion of the list. It blows me away

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I had the Fuerte de Tamarindo with the starters

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and the Ron-Yki-On with my main

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They start you out with made in-house quinoa bread with three dips

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a peanut and mystery herb, a passionfruit, and a jalapeno, all delicious.

Aren't you ready to go to Andina just for the drinks? But that would be crazy, because the food is really super. The starters come in small, medium, and large, and are an incredible bargain. The two of us shared three small plates, and five or six would have made a meal for two, if we hadn't been dying to have the mains too. It was a really tough choice, but we went with

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piquillo peppers (yes, this picture is sideways - it just looks so...anatomically correct that way!)

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stuffed with cheese, quinoa, and Serrano ham

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a purple potato cake filled with smoked trout and topped with what looks like the world's largest olive

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and quinoa-studded crispy prawns, with a dipping sauce of that same mystery herb, I think. I'm sorry the tails aren't showing in the picture, they were so yummy and crunchy.

It might have been prudent to quit right there, but bravely, we soldiered on to

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chicken escabeche with roasted sweet potatoes and onions, topped by a poached egg, and

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roasted rack of lamb with a potato and three cheese timbale that is a very popular item, judging by the plates we watched being delivered to neighboring tables

I asked for, and received it, perfectly rare

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Only because it was a special occasion, we decided that somewhere we had room for dessert. Our excellent and just-attentive-enough server was strangely missing, until she unexpectedly appeared with this beautiful complimentary dessert

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a chocolate cinnamon cake with a scoop of lucuma ice cream, lucuma being a tropical fruit we'd never heard of before, but want to find again now.

We might possibly have to move to Portland now. That was one of our favorite meals in recent memory! And not to rub it in, or anything, but the bill, before the tip, and remembering that the dessert was comped, was $78. I swear I'm not making this up.

Edited by Abra (log)
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Abra, thank you for such beautiful pictures. Now I really, really want to go to Andina. Soon.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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Abra, thank you for such beautiful pictures. Now I really, really want to go to Andina. Soon.

I have been there for both lunch and dinner but never the Sunday brunch. Has anyone been lately and have an opinion?

Thanks,

Cat

cat lancaster

catchi@ix.netcom.com

Portland, OR

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Abra, that was better than reading a fairy tale story, because the beautiful illustrations were entirely of colorful, wonderful, creative food and the story was non-fiction - two wonderful real life people actually got to EAT and drink everything described in the fairytale! Sigh. Thanks for sharing your wonderful evening t'was truly delightful.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 months later...

Andina was a revelation to me/us and as an auslander I think I should endorse the opinions of the Oregonians on this thread. We were dazzled by the twists, spices and preparations used and thrilled to be able to sample lots of dishes due to our number (7) at table. It’s impossible to single out anything, we were equally impressed by the Sacsayhuaman coktails, the two cebiches (langoustine and fish of the day), causa (spicy tuna, crab salad & crispy shrimp), stuffed piquillo pepper and mains of – scallops, chicken, duck and lamb shank – as well as the dessert canutos. It was a great meal whose cost was borne by my generous hosts.

PS We had a quick lunch at the Piazza Italia and it was super: mussels and coques on pasta, good salads and a carafe of house Sangovese, all for $74 for three of us.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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  • 1 year later...

We will be in Portland later this month and we are considering Andina for dinner. Any recent experiences here and what is good to order? We were thinking about another meal at Lucier but would like to try somewhere we have not yet been. 23 Hoyt is another one we're considering. Thanks! :)

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I had dinner at Andina a couple of weeks ago. It was a work function with a set menu served family style. Everything was good but my favorites were:

PIMIENTO PIQUILLO RELLENO piquillo peppers stuffed with cheese, quinoa and Serrano ham

QUINOTO DE HONGOS DE LA MONTAÑA grilled market fresh vegetables on a bed of golden beet and local mushroom “risotto” laced with truffle oil

And desserts! I'm not usually a dessert fan but these were awesome!

CANUTOS DE QUINOA Y MARACUYA crisp quinoa studded cannolis stuffed with passionfruit mousse, served with mango-lemongrass sorbet and caramel

ALFAJORES the classic Peruvian cookie, scented with key lime and filled with manjar blanco

Practice Random Acts of Toasting

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Our meal at Andina this past Thus. night was fantastic! We ordered two small plates, the Stuffed Peppers and the Seafood Potato Cakes, both were full of interesting and unique flavors. My entree was the Tenderloin with Ravioli and Sliced Apples, very good. For dessert, I had the Lemon Cake and my husband had the Chocolate cake with Basil ice cream. Loved the food and vibe at Andina and will definitley return again. :)

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  • 5 weeks later...

Andina is the first place I stop when I go to Portland.

I have been lucky enough to travel extensively since retirement, and have found that almost any big city in the world will have a Peruana restaurant.

When I am fed up with local cuisine, (fairly easy in places like Amsterdam and Chile), a Peruana restaurant is just the ticket.

Nothing like potatoes and ceviche to make me feel normal again.

My first visit to Andina was right after returning from South America. We went in for lunch and, because we had just returned form the south, Mama Doris sat with us almost the entire meal and treated us like long-lost friends.

Its been a long time since I had a quiet time in Andina like that one, but the food is excellent. Consider sitting at the bar and enjoying some tapas and a Pisco Sour.

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I have been lucky enough to travel extensively since retirement, and have found that almost any big city in the world will have a Peruana restaurant.

When I am fed up with local cuisine, (fairly easy in places like Amsterdam and Chile), a Peruana restaurant is just the ticket.

Nothing like potatoes and ceviche to make me feel normal again.

Oh you are lucky that you did not come to Seattle and eat at the horrible Peruvian hash house that was here! I did not make it to Mixtura in Kirkland before they closed, but I did go to the place in White Center. One of the worst meals in my life. thankfully, it has closed.

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The thing is, sometimes it doesn't have to be that good.

The Peruana restaurant in Amsterdam was not very good, but the food generally blows in A'dam.

But, a Peruvian cooked the potatoes. I think a Peruvian could take that old spud lying under the metro shelves in the walk-in and turn it into buttter.

Potatoes and ceviche are my comfort foods. They make me as happy as a fat American tourist stumbling into a McDonald's in Sienna.

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