Last month, my husband had his 42nd birthday and to celebrate we went to a Peruvian restaurant in Toronto. Our usual choice for Peruvian food is Paracas on St.Clair because of the inviting hospitality of the owner and the delicious food. This time we decide to try El Fogon again. The last time we tried to get a table at El Fogon was nearly two years ago. It was Mother’s Day afternoon and we were turned away because we didn’t have reservations. I was not pleased especially after looking for parking for several long minutes and then wrestling Alejandro into the stroller. Not to mention I was already very pregnant with baby numero dos. Luckily, El Plebeyo (which is the new Paracas) was just down the street and around the corner. They had a parking spot in the back for us and a quiet table for three.
I digress back to my review of El Fogon. Since we were turned away last time because we did not have a reservation I decided to make reservations this time because now we had two little boys to contend with; also it was Rafael’s birthday and I wanted him to have a nice lunch.Thankfully, the time we chose to dine was perfect for a family outting because it was in the afternoon and it was relatively quiet. Rafael was a bit reluctant to take both boys with us but I was confident that all was going to go well as long as we remained cool. Our waitress was very attentive and didn’t huff when Alejandro sat at the table with his jacket on for nearly the entire meal. The food we ordered was adequate to stave our craving for Peruvian food that I haven’t made.
The most memorable dish was the appetizer of Yucca Frito, Platanos Fritos and Calamari which they call the Appetizer Trio. The appetizer platter was accompanied with Huacaina Sauce and a Garlic Aji Sauce. The crunchy exterior of the yucca gave away nicely to the soft interior to create a comforting session in my mouth. The calamari was tender and lightly seasoned. The platanos (plantain) was buttery and warm. All three items were very satisfying; however the sauces could have been more flavourful. The Huacaina was not at all spicy and tangy like it usually is and the Garlic Sauce was simply flavoured mayonnaise.
For our main plates we ordered Lomo Saltado and Seco de Carne. Rafael ordered the safe entree of Lomo Saltado while I decided to try a dish I have not made yet. The Lomo Saltado was good. The steak was well seasoned with cumin, oregano and cilantro. The fried potatoes could have been cut thicker but overall the taste was very tasty. The combination of Peruvian herbs and spices together with the Asian undertones of soy sauce and cooking sherry came together nicely. My dish on the other hand was disappointing. The description on the menu of Seco De Carne suggested that I was going to be eating a piping hot bowl of succulant beef married with the Peruvian staple rice and potatoes along with Canario Beans. However, the bowl was a large round, flat plate and the food was stone cold. I wonder if either the beef stew or beans were freshly made or if they were leftovers from the night before. It seemed as if items in my dish were reheated in a microwave.
Overall, our birthday lunch was memorable because the boys had such a good time being out with us at a restaurant. We had some good food and we were nicely treated even if our two little rascals made them work for their tip. I still prefer Paracas over El Fogon but I would go back for their appetizers and perhaps next time bring some adult friends along for a drink.