In Quito’s La Floresta neighborhood, Alkimia, which opened in 2008, has a young Peruvian chef who prepares Latin dishes with mostly locally sourced ingredients. The owners are the same as Teatrum, which is considered one of, if not the best restaurants in Ecuador.
On a recent visit there I found some highs and some lows. First the set up is truly beautiful. There’s a cool lounge area near the front and two spacious dining rooms attached. A velvety red curtain on one wall says it all. Having eaten at Zazu the night before, I had high expectations from the food. Friends in Quito raved about the seven-course tasting menu for $44, though I wasn’t nearly hungry enough to indulge. Like Zazu, there is lots of Peruvian and broader Latin flair on the menu.
While the menu was inventive, the execution was somewhat lacking. The Atún rojo a la parrilla y guiso de tres quinuas (Seared red tuna; black, red, and white quinoa; arugala pesto, and balsamic vinaigrette; and lime) was the highlight of the meal and was the first thing I ate. It was light and flavorful and set the bar for what would come. Other entradas that I caught glimpse of on the other tables, the pulpo and the carpaccios, looked equally as tasty.
The entrees fell short though. Mylangostinos were served with a pure de yucca with an Hierba Luisa (lemongrass) sauce. The plate lacked color and the fried prawns and yucca was a heavy combination, though the lemongrass sauce did help the dish go down. I would have looked more of it though. My wife said her Trucha Rellena, or stuffed trout, looked like a Thanksgiving Turkey. The espuma de habas, or lima bean foam, that it came with wasn’t really even foam at all, rather a liquid mess.
I’m willing to give Alkimia another chance the next time I’m in Quito. I admit I did visit the restaurant on a slow, Monday night, though for the most buzzed about restaurant in town I expected more. Next time, tasting menu.
Valladolid N24 – 519 y Fco. Salazar
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.