Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Fallen Angel

When I was in Peru at the end of last year, I was fortunate to eat at some really memorable places. One of those was Fallen Angel in Cusco.

Generally speaking I tend to avoid restaurants full of tourists, as I'd much rather eat at a vaguely authentic place. But our guide had booked us in to Fallen Angel on the last night of our trip. As soon as we stepped through the door, we realised this was no regular restaurant. The fit-out was completely over the top. There were angels everywhere, murals, random verses painted on the walls, lots of glass and plenty of quirky decorations.

But our table turned out to be even better than the surroundings, because it was a fishtank. It looked like a really big old bath that been filled with brightly coloured fish, a few plants and covered with a thick sheet of glass. After we were shown to our table we spent the first few minutes just watching the fish. The next 5-10 minutes were then occupied by us all trying to get a good photo of the fish, which proved a bit tough (as you can see).

The menu covers salads, soups, pasta and steaks. Most of us opted for the 250 gram organic tenderloins, because we hadn't had too much luck finding a really good steak in Peru. The tenderloins came with loads of different sauces, including Chancacon (Colorado chilli and Peruvian molasses), Cool-antro (marinated in ginger, sugar and garlic and served with freshly chopped coriander) and basil, pepper and aniseed. Each of the steaks were 40 Soles (about $18), which is actually a pretty expensive meal in Peru.

I ordered a tenderloin with red wine and fresh rosemary, thinking that the steaks here should be good enough not to need too much in the way of sauce. All of the steaks were served with a side of rice, potatoes, potato rosti, veges or some very suggestive looking mashed potato (two small mounds of mashed potato, each topped with a pea).

My steak was ok, but not as good as the surroundings. It tasted like it had been stewed in a pan on low heat, but was tender, and the sauce complemented the steak well.

As it turned out, the non-steak dishes were the best. My wife enjoyed her yellow potato and red beetroot gnocchi. Not only did it have an amazing presentation, it tasted just as good as it looked. Although I didn't get to try it, one of our friends ordered a salad that was topped with rose petals - no half measures on presentation here.

If the steaks were a bit underwhelming, the cocktails made up for it - they were fantastic. The fruit cocktails were real standouts. We had spent a decent chunk of the afternoon at a pub watching Peru play a world cup qualifying game (which they lost), so the cocktails were going down well by this stage of the night. My original margarita was great, but not a patch on the passionfruit daiquiri, which was one of the most refreshing and tangy cocktails I've ever tried. It was such an amazing colour too.

The crazy design even extended to the toilets. There were only two, and although there was some bizarre symbol above each door, I had no idea which one was the gents. One of the toilets was decorated with barbed wire and roses, and the other had every centimetre of its walls covered in cracked mirrors. We all came back to the table and asked each other which loo we thought was the men's or ladies - it just added to the whole experience.

Although some of our food wasn't a standout, the decor and drinks make this a memorable place for a meal. Sure, no-one wants to eat a place like this every night when you're on holidays, but it was the perfect place to go for a last dinner with some great friends we had met on our trip, before we all headed back to various parts of the globe.

What does all this mean? Over the top decorations and amazing cocktails make this the perfect place to remind you that you're on holidays.

food bling ratings
Food - OK
Service - Good
Ambience - Amazing, over-the-top surroundings, with fish swimming around under your table
Value for Money - Good
Vegetarian - Good
Wine - Forget about wine for the night and drink the amazing cocktails instead

Fallen Angel
Plazoleta Nazarenas 221
Cusco Peru

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