Andina

The peppy little band playing in the bar at Andina couldn’t have said it better as they belted out a Paolo Conte cover–”It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, I dream of you!” Come to think of it, once I really did dream of Andina’s mango and green prawn ceviche, but I have a serious food addiction so that happens now and then.

Once I really did dream of Andina’s mango and green prawn ceviche, but I have a serious food addiction so that happens now and then.

Andina is a beautiful restaurant, the expansive dining room as brightly colored as a jungle bird, with rich wood floors, photographs of Peruvian natives, terracotta walls and archways, and industrial elements like exposed ductwork that lend it a touch of Pearl swank. Service is warm and gracious–servers are knowledgeable and efficient, and owner “Mama Doris” often roams the tables chatting amiably with diners.

mojito-illustrationStart your evening with a couple of Andina’s legendary mojitos (legendary to me, anyway), a perfect balance of lime juice, mint, simple syrup and Appleton white rum over ice, garnished with a stick of sugarcane. If you must abandon the cocktail menu, move on to a bottle of wine, Andina prides themselves on their extensive and meticulously chosen wine list and has a wine store downstairs, The Pearl Wine Shop.

The menu offers nearly 40 superb small plates that can be ordered in three sizes–pequeno, mediano, or grande, so you can order just enough smoky grilled asparagus to tantalize your palate or you can order enough green mango and prawn cebiche to leave you dreaming about it all night. Personally,  I rarely order an entrée at Andina, it’s too much fun to sample the small plates, but if you see one that calls to you, order it–they are delicious.

Dishes are brought to the table as they are prepared, and soon the entire table is covered in small white plates bearing exquisite things like tiny bright red piquillo peppers stuffed with quinoa, cheese and serrano ham; deep green avocado halves overflowing with crab salad and prawns, marinated chicken kebobs served with huacatay-peanut sauce, cheese-stuffed yuca with aji Amarillo and cheese sauce, salty smoky curls of serrano ham, tiny tender bay scallops baked with parmesan and lime butter, grilled octopus kebobs, and my personal favorite, the Causa Mixta Nikkei, a traditional Peruvian preparation of freshly mashed key-lime juice infused potatoes pressed into a cake, then topped with crab salad, chunks of spicy tuna, and a huge crispy prawn, and garnished with a bright green avocado fan.

When the last plate has been licked clean and whisked away, you may be tempted to jump up and race to the airport to catch a plane to Lima, but don’t leave without having dessert. The crisp quinoa studded cannolis with passionfruit mousse, mango-lemongrass sorbet and caramel are divine, and the creme brulee trio is always a crowd pleaser. One warning, though–yes, you’ve been swapping forkfuls of food all night long, but sharing dessert can quickly deteriorate into a fierce and vicious battle of the dessert spoons. I still have the scar from when I agreed to share the creamy goat cheese and lemon cake with my mother.

Details

Cuisine: Peruvian

Executive Chef: Hank Costello

Atmosphere: Fun and festive, perfect for a gathering of friends, birthday dinner for two, or family meal

Outdoor seating: No

Best Seat: I love to claim one of the booths in the window if I’m in the dining room, or a table for two along the window in the bar.

Noise Level: Anywhere from Normal to Slightly Deafening, depending on the evening and the size and enthusiasm of the crowd

Dress Code: Dressy casual

Bring the Kids: Yes, if they are well behaved

Bathrooms: Yes, the men restroom’s is along the back wall of the dining room, roughly midway between the kitchen and the east wall. The women’s is in the bar area, down the hallway to the left of the bar.

Parking: Street parking is metered Mon-Sat 8am-7pm and Sun 1-7pm, and there is a pay lot nearby as well.

Cocktails: Andina has some of the best cocktails in the city, don’t miss the Mojito (my favorite), the Pisco Sour, or the spicy Sacsayhuaman (sorry, pronunciation is not included), all $8.75. Also try Mama Doris’ sangria (“fruity but potent” is how they bill it), $5 a glass, $19 a pitcher.

Beer: Cusqueña (Peru), Cristal (Peru) and Xingu (Brazil), all $5

Wine: The wine list boasts an entire page of wines by the glass, and an extensive by-the-bottle list of sparklies, whites, rosés, and reds from all over the world.

Corkage: $20 per 750 mL

Coffee: K & F roasts a special Peruvian blend exclusively for Andina

Tea: Tea Zone

Ideal Meal: Green mango and prawn cebiche, causa mixta Nikkei, piquillo relleno, avocado with crab salad, crème brulee trio

Vegetarian Friendly: Yes, there is a vegetarian menu

Vegan Friendly: Yes

Gluten Free: Andina has a gluten free menu, see it here

Good for the following occasions: Out With Friends, Family Meal, Special & Splurgey

Group/Private Party Details: Andina has several special event options. I love their intimate downstairs wine cellar dining table in The Pearl Wine Shop (seats up to 16), and their newest event space, the lovely Tupai room above the restaurant, can accommodate up to 65 seated and 100 standing guests, and has a dedicated kitchen, full-service bar and an open space that can accommodate any event from business presentations to wedding receptions. The George V and Tourmaline rooms can accommodate groups of 20-50, but are less aesthetically remarkable than the cellar or Tupai.

Reservations: Yes, call 503.228.9535 or reserve online at Open Table

Take-Out: Yes

Delivery: No

Entertainment: Live music nightly in the bar, Sun-Thu at 7pm, Fri and Sat at 8 pm.
See the schedule here

Wi-Fi: Yes