Any Peruvian polleria worth its wings will ensure two key elements are in place before throwing open its doors to the chicken-tearing masses: 1) an authentic stainless-steel rotisserie spit, preferably one from Lima; and 2) a secret pollo a la brasa recipe worth keeping secret. Lima 41 has a gleaming oven in its kitchen, and its chicken, for the most part, is worth coming back for. But where other Peruvian chicken joints are hotbeds for Hispanic diners, this one was noticeably lacking in a Latin contingent. The knock against so-called "ethnic eateries" is that, if they aren't patronized by customers with the same ethnic background, the restaurant isn't worth visiting. It's a rule followed by many but, as Lima 41 demonstrates, not necessarily one to live by.
The folks running this joint, Freddy Zubieta and Maria Zamudio, take pride in their dishes – not just their chicken dishes, either, and rightfully so. I will, however, level this charge against the restaurant: At times, they seem to play it safe with the flavors. I liked the papa rellena ($6), particularly the chunks (not ground crumbles) of beef and black olives stuffed in the potato balls, but the seasonings didn't exactly leave an impression. Even the light drizzle of "golf" sauce (ketchup, mayo and mustard) could've used a little waggle. One could argue, I suppose, that Lima 41 is taking a prudent line, particularly during its feel-out period in this Lake Terrace neighborhood, but I would advocate for a slightly bolder approach.
Enter the rocoto pepper. The stinging sauce made from this hot number put a little danger into the proceedings and ultimately, it proved irresistible as an accompaniment to both the papa rellena and the lomo saltado ($14.95). The pillowy chunks of beef in the lomo saltado stir-fry were superbly tender, and the thick French fries were artistically stacked next to a rounded hillock of crunchy rice. I didn't care much for the rice, but I wasn't going to question the preparation from starch-raving-mad Peruvians.
The ceviche de pescado ($14), on the other hand, stood fine on its own. This national dish of Peru comprised the requisite cubes of citrus-cured, rocoto-flecked corvina (the preferred white fish amongst cevicherias) as its base, with a surrounding mix of compartmentalized textures and tastes: crackling kernels of fried corn, pops of giant corn niblets and starchy-sweet yams.
Getting back to the pollo a la brasa ($11 half; $19.99 whole), their seasoning mix was certainly distinct. Perhaps beer or Coke was used as a basting agent? I can't be sure, but the dark char on the skin and succulent flesh on this pricey bird make it worth coming back for. Accompanying sauces – mayo, aji amarillo and horseradish-flavored aji verde – worked better as colorful table ornaments than dipping sauces.
I didn't care much for the overly dense flan ($3.50), but the mousse de lucuma ($4.50), an airy blend made from the Andean fruit and topped with coffee-flavored chocolate sprinkles, was a rousing ender.
The "41" is a reference to the postal code of the San Borja district in Lima, we overheard the waitress tell a family who were clearly new to the cuisine. She then implored them for honest feedback and encouraged them to be critical. That's a quick and easy route to improvement that, frankly, not enough new restaurants employ. So as good as my meal was, I'm positive it'll be even better on my next visit.
2901 Curry Ford Road
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