Peruvian cuisine is something brand new to me so I was really excited to find out about the opening of Culantro, Hamilton's first Peruvian Cookery. The Sok sister and I went in one day for a quick bite to eat before we headed to the movies.
The place was a super small casual dinning spot with about twenty seats and a counter style ordering system. They had a busy lunch the day we walked in so a few items on the menu were already 86'd by the time we arrived but Juan, the chef really made it up to us!
We decided to try the empanada plate - one chicken and one beef empanada but while we waited for them Chef Juan sent out some samples from the kitchen. During our entire stay he touched the table, explained the dishes and checked up on us. His hospitality was very warm and welcoming!
The shrimp ceviche below was light and refreshing. It was a great preview to what was in store next and it was a very sweet gesture from Chef Juan. The pork belly that was sent out was an excellent treat! The crackling was beautiful and although the pork was a little on the dry side - I really appreciated the gesture. Chef Juan was super kind to us during our entire meal and was very apologetic about having to 86 a few items - which we both didn't mind - you can't hate on a restaurant for being busy! C'est la vie!
When our empanadas came out, they were warm and super flakey. I can't remember what the sauces were but I know they were definitely made in house cause you could taste the freshness! The first empanada was filled with roasted chicken, corn, carrot and zucchini. The second was prime Ontario beef, olives, raisins, onions, peppers, and hard boiled egg. Both empanadas packed a lot of flavour and were both juicy and piping hot. The empanadas also came with a choice of either yucca, sweet potato or french fries. We went with the yucca fries and I loved dipping them into the accompanied sauces. Culantro could easily be my go to lunch spot if I worked in the area. These empanadas would make a mean lunch!
Another treat Chef Juan sent out to us was this lovely tamarind juice. I've always known tamarind to be very tart and sour but this was sweet and super refreshing. These juices were also made in house.
Culantro would be a fantastic spot to hit up if you work or are ever in the downtown area. The warm hospitality from Chef Juan and his team is so refreshing and delightful. He was so kind to us, I felt like we were having lunch at his home. This will not be my first trip into Peruvian cuisine and I am looking forward to coming back and sampling their rotisserie chicken!
47 King William Street
photo's by the lovely Chandary Sok Photography