With the opening of La Mar Cebicheria on the Embarcadero last week, the United States got its first taste of a Gaston Acurio restaurant. But the chefstrauteur has been going strong in South America for years.
By way of comparison, and to give ourselves a reason to refer to somebody we work with as a “foreign correspondent,” we sent our Santiago-Based bike-messenger-cum-reporter, Foresta Sieck-Hill, and her friend Daniel Castillo A. to get a glimpse of La Mar’s Santiago location. Foresta moved to Santiago to study abroad, finished her degree, got a job as a courier and never left. Here are some excerpts from her e-mail:
Did I tell you that I have a friend here who is a professional photographer? Well, I do. On Saturday we rode our bikes to Vitacura. La Mar is on a street lined with restaurants and condos, but if you were to just ride by without looking, you’d think it was just a suburban street. Anyway, the plan was to just get a drink, take some photos, and then leave. We were there for 2 and a half hours!
Apparently, they didn’t do a very good job of keeping their identities as fledgling food writers a secret (“we asked if we could take pictures for an article…”) but that’s good for us because it means we can vicariously experience a whole different side of La Mar. Turns out, it’s not so different after all.
Read her notes and check out some more photos after the jump.
Here’s the notes I took:
Concrete block bldg with floor ceiling windows, going for the underwater look. Hella good corn nuts. We talk to the bar tenders; two of them are relocated from Peru, they make us a Pisco Sour which is totally amazing. Puts Chile to shame. then they make us a Cholopolitan, which supposedly has some fancy Peruvian fruit (maracuya I think), kind of tastes like a greyhound.
The manager comes out, I talk to him but he doesn’t really tell me much. Apparently the menu in SF will have less items and change more. wow. He tells Daniel to show his photos before leaving. Then he orders us Causa Mixta and Ceviche Mixta.
Causa Mixta is little potato balls with fancy stuff on top. Really salty and mayonaisy — fancy potato salad. I dont recommend it. The ceviche mixta, however, was like the most amazing thing ever: 4 different types of ceviche, HELLA good.
The drinks were pretty stong, I was getting tipsy. Then they serve us shots of fancy Pisco. Pisco is usually the stuff that some hillbilly makes in his bathtub and then brings to town in a wooden cart, seriously, so it was interesting to try the good stuff. The waiters sing happy birthday to a few different tables (what is this, Chucky Cheese??)
Dessert Plate is 4 different types of Flan. Pretty yummy, although not the best of my life.
So there you go, folks. Down in Santiago, La Mar is all about the same things it is here: Pisco cocktails, cebiche, and being all fancy. Looks like Acurio has hit on a formula that works. Good times!
[Photos: Top: A cebiche pronounced “HELLA good” by our correspondent, Middle: La Mar Santiago’s exterior, Bottom: Bartender Jose Manuel poses with an unknown cocktail. All photos via Daniel Castillo A.]