Review : Keenwa

 
few weeks ago I received an invitation to enjoy a meal at Keenwa - Cape Town's first Peruvian restaurant. Having never eaten, or even really investigated Peruvian cuisine before, I was intrigued and excited to see what it had to offer.

So one Saturday evening, the lovely man and I ventured into central Cape Town and started our Peruvian adventure. We were seated in a comfortable booth and started with a beer for him, and a glass of rose for me.


  
 Our starter was fairly easy to decide on - the Peruvian platter, which we shared. It consisted of Ceviche (Cubes of fish marinated in lime juice and a sprinkle of chillies, served with sweet potatoes to complement the zing.), Cause de Pollo (Mashed potatoes with limes and chillies topped with a chicken, avocado and home-made mayonnaise), Tiradito (Thinly sliced fish in a spicy lime juice sauce) and Pulpo al olivo (Octopus served on a delicious black olive sauce)

The Peruvian Platter to start
 It was a delicious and perfect option for us. The owner, German de la Melena (pronounced along the lines of "Herman") was there to kindly guide us through each dish, and also help us to choose our mains - which we found to be quite a struggle. The starters were absolutely perfect - packed with fresh, tangy flavour, light and delicious. The Ceviche and Tiradito were spicy, melt in your mouth and ridiculously fresh. The Cause de Pollo was rich, smooth and fresh - but the Pulpo al Olivo was the surprise of the dish for me - as I'm generally not an enthusiastic olive eater, I was a bit hesitant of having something smothered in an olive sauce -but it worked perfectly. A creamy but not-too-bitter black olive sauce worked wonderfully (and surprisingly) with the tender octopus - surprise of the evening for me.

(There were ponchos - I couldn't help myself)
There was a bit of a struggle when choosing our mains - but German helped us to choose two dishes that were different enough to give us a better understanding of the cuisine. I ordered the Aji de Gallina (Shredded chicken in a spicy cream sauce, served on boiled potatoes with rice) and Luke had the Pork Carapulcra (The oldest recipe in Peruvian cuisine and a firm favourite in our Restaurant; It's dried mince potato cooked on a peanut and chili sauce served with rice and a choice of chicken, beef or pork). We were a little concerned about most of the dishes being "carb heavy" - and we weren't wrong. It's typical of the cuisine - so keep that in mind if you're expecting plates laden with fresh green vegetables. 

My Aji de Gallina (Shredded chicken in a spicy cream sauce, served on boiled potatoes with rice)
My chicken was lovely - the "cream" was made the Arabic way - by soaking bread in milk. There was a hint of spice and nuttiness, and generally a pleasant dish - although I only managed to finish 3/4 of mine.


Luke's Pork Carapulcra (The oldest recipe in Peruvian cuisine and a firm favourite in our Restaurant; It's dried mince potato cooked on a peanut and chili sauce served with rice and a choice of chicken, beef or pork)

Luke's pork was a man-sized portion, with generous chunks of meat. Quite a lot spicier and richer than mine, he enjoyed his- but also struggled to finish the dish.

We hadn't planned on dessert - but German encouraged us to have just a taster -so we settled on sharing the Pisco Sour Ice Cream (Home-made Pisco Sour Ice cream served on a cake soaked in Pisco) - and we were so glad we did! The ice cream had the perfect balance between the sweet, tangy alcohol and rich creaminess of the ice cream. The perfect end to the meal.

Pisco Sour Ice Cream (Home-made Pisco Sour Ice cream served on a cake soaked in Pisco)
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Keenwa - as we were leaving we saw a table of Peruvians enter - testifying to the authenticity of German's home-cooked menu. We'll be back - perhaps to try the tapas and drinks at their Pisco Bar upstairs...or perhaps for the Peruvian Platter and more Pisco Ice Cream...


Note : We were invited to dine at Keenwa by Lions Wing Brand Communications, and enjoyed our meal compliments of Keenwa.

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