Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Andina's (Portland)

I've been told that in recent years Portland has really become a great foodie destination, and I finally got a taste of it when I had to go there for some meetings. We had a team dinner at Andina's in the Pearl District near downtown Portland. It is an upscale restaurant that combines "Peruvian home cooking and haute cuisine." (OK, that's what their website says.) What I found was a delicious mix of fresh ingredients commonly found in Peruvian cuisine, beautifully presented in artistic fashion.

We started off with some cocktails, and the waiter recommended the house specialty, which was a blend of passion fruit juice and habanero-infused vodka (I think that's what he said). The result was a unique and tasty drink that is very dangerous (I can keep on drinking them) and has a very strong kick (definitely not for those who can't take heat!) I started off with the "cebiche de pescado '5 elementos'" for appetizer, which was basically pieces of fish marinated in lime juice, onions, cilantro, pepper, and salt. The dish was very flavorful and the fish was fresh, but for some reason it was quite salty. It would have been perfect if they scaled back on the salt.

For entree, I got the "corderito de los andes," which was a double rack of grass-fed lamb. The lamb came grilled to perfection and the portions were quite generous. The dish also came with two "cheese timbale," which I'm not quite sure what it was but it was delicious. It seemed to be some sort of cheese and potato cake and it complemented the lamb very well. My coworker got the "dorado al rocoto y kion," which was roasted mahi mahi in broth. I tried a little bit of her entree and thought it was just okay though. The fish was a bit over-cooked for my liking and the broth was very lightly flavored. It's probably a good dish for those who are looking for something light and healthy.

As for dessert, I chose the "canutos de quinoa y maracuya," which were cannolis stuffed with passion fruit mousse, and it was so good! The crispy cannolis shell really contrasted with the texture and flavor of the passion fruit mousse. I couldn't put my spoon down until I finished every last morsel! One of my coworkers decided to get the "torta de chocolate," which was very rich and decadent. It was very good as well but I would recommend trying the cannolis because it's something you are unlikely to find in other restaurants.

Overall, the dining experience at Andina's was great and the food was fabulous. I can't wait to go back to Portland to come here again as well as try all the other good restaurants that Portland has to offer.