Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cholo's Peruvian Restaurant, Dickson (ACT) by Big Fil

It’s a long time since I’ve lived in North Canberra but even back in the mid 90’s Dickson was known as the place to go for cheap and tasty Asian food.  Staying at The Pavilion on Northbourne Avenue gave me a chance to visit again and there are still a lot of cheap to mid-range options for those on a bit of a tight budget.  What I didn’t expect to wander on past though on a dark side road was an interesting looking Peruvian restaurant.

Cholo’s is casual in design with lots of brown and bright red colours and a few pictures around the wall reminding diners of the ‘exotic’ nature of the food.  Combined with the friendly warmth of the serving staff it feels a bit like a family run restaurant.

Visiting on two separate nights meant that I could sample a dish from both the regular menu and one of the specials.  First night from the specials it was the Adobo de Chancho, pork loin topped with Spanish onion, yellow chilli and coriander sauce, served with a salad of diced potato, corn, beetroot, carrot, egg and peas, and rice topped with fried sweet potato strips.  The pork was nicely cooked, the sauce mildly flavoured with a touch of sweetness cut through by the coriander (always a good match with pork).  The salad is reminiscent of a Russian or Potato salad and while the addition of the rice felt a little strange it was useful in mopping up the rest of the sauce.

The following night from the regular menu it was the Pollo a la Brassa, roasted chicken served with a garden salad and Papas (chips by another name?) and topped again by fried sweet potato.  Well seasoned and cooked chicken, respectable chips, served a moderately hot chilli sauce, what let it down a little was that the garden salad felt a little perfunctory.  While I did quite enjoy this what struck me a little about both meals is that it all felt quite familiar in style and taste - pork with potato salad, roast chicken with garden salad.

There are a few desert options, including a torta tres leches, a sponge cake soaked in three different sorts of milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream.  Given the ingredients the cake is lighter than you would expect, but it also didn’t have the delicious luxuriousness of some other versions that I have tried.

One thing you should definitely try if you visit is the pisco sour.  Popular in both Peru and with Chile, when it arrives at your table it is pretty and frothy, and the sweetness of the sugar lined glass rim contrasts with the sourness of the drink.  Just delicious.

Comfortable and familiar feeling with just a few different touches, Cholo’s is a good neighbourhood restaurant and somewhere I am glad to have tried but not necessarily somewhere I would rush back to visit if in Canberra.  It did feel a little tame, that the dishes on offer reflected those designed to appeal to a local palate more than what might be found at a typical Peruvian cafe.  But then again, I’ve never been to Peru.

Food – 7.5
Ambience – 7
Service – 7.5
Price – 6.5

Shop 68, 12 Challis St 
Dickson ACT 2602
Telephone: 02 6248 8648

Cholo's Peruvian Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading reviews because it gives me an idea of what to expect from a restaurant.
I read this review as I heard wonders and was recommended of a Peruvian restaurant in Canberra. I have been to Peru and I just love the food.
As I read on, I noticed that the critic is far from knowing about Peruvian food and it's culture. It is obvious that each individual has their own palates and tastes, however to say that dishes are bland and knowing that Peruvian food is far from being BLAND, I just had to go to Cholo's to see if the review did the restaurant justice.
I also tasted the pisco sour. OMG what a treat, it reminded me of Peru immediately when I drank this at the Penas, which are restaurants in Peru with live dance shows or typical dances from all over the country. When we got our entrees which were ceviche and anticuchos.... they just brought me back to Peru (AGAIN). The flavours were insanely delicious. I had to order both mains that the critic chose, taking the risk. HOLY COW!!!!!!
The pork dish was so tender and YES the potato salad with the beetroot just complimented the dish. Then the Pollo a la Brasa.... Now, I have never had a charcoal chicken quiet like this one EVER in Australia. The tenderness and succulent flesh was so flavoursome and the sauce was amaaaazingggggg the salad was so fresh and the dressing wow.... I then remembered that the critic said that both dishes were similar in flavour due to the salads... WHAT!!!!! Both dishes were so very very different, both delicious in their own way but yet how can you find a similarity between a garden salad and a potato salad? I pulled my phone to show my friend the review and we just had to giggle.
we were so full as the size of the dishes were quiet generous but still we just had to have one dessert to share. My friend said we had to try the critic's dessert choice. Now, what a treat that was. i am not a sweet tooth but that cake was so moist and fluffy and just melted in your mouth.

Peruvian food have never disappointed me at all and I will have to come back for more.

What struck me was that the critic said ..."It did feel a little tame, that the dishes on offer reflected those designed to appeal to a local palate more than what might be found at a typical Peruvian cafe. But then again, I’ve never been to Peru".

To be able to make such a remark about the gastronomy or a particular culture and say how it is designed, when one has no idea and has done no research, I think it's insulting and perhaps ignorant. It was a hit below the belt and truly feel for the restaurant that a review like the one Big Fil wrote does not do the restaurant justice at all...

I have to come back to Canberra.........

EatAndBeMerry ForTomorrowWeDiet said...

Hi Anonymous

I freely acknowledge that I don't know much about Peruvian cuisine. My ignorance/loss maybe but you can't know everything about every particular food culture. All I can give is my honest opinion about a particular meal or dish. I'm also happy to hear feedback if someone disagrees with my views - after all it's just my view and it's a good way to learn.

On the other hand, reading back at what I said I never described the food as bland, and I never described the dishes as similar because of the salads. What I did say was that some of the arrangements felt familiar, pork and potato, roast chicken with a garden salad. Could be because at heart they have a similar European basis to a lot of Australian cooking.

Looking back I described Cholo's as a good neighborhood restaurant and one that I liked a lot, something I stand by.


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