Monday, November 19, 2012

Picca's new fall menu: Why you should put aside prejudice and order a sweet potato cocktail right now

Caigua (Peruvian cucumber), stuffed with beef, raisins and feta
Picca chef Ricardo Zarate has come up with a swath of new menu items, despite being busy with the more-recently opened Mo-Chica downtown and plans for a new restaurant, Paiche, in Marina del Rey. Even though Picca is nearly always buzzy and full, it seems like a fine idea to freshen up the menu at the year-and-a-half old Pico Ave. Peruvian spot.
Sweet potato sour

When a restaurant opens or debuts new menu items, the food blogger scrum at the table can get a bit ridiculous. The food cools, enormous lenses swing around the table, iPhones lights are deployed in low-light situations. And then the L.A. food blogosphere reverberates with the sound of many similar meals. Here's Caroline on Crack's photo-intensive tour of our dinner. We can only be grateful her camera was pointed at the guy in the cap instead of the frowsy blogger next to him.
lobster tartare, mango, yuca chips

But since Picca opened, it's been the kind of restaurant where you make a point of getting there even when you or a friend are actually paying for your own meal, so I feel justified in recommending you stop by for a cocktail with a breath of fall and some causas, ceviches and anticuchos (grilled skewered meats).
The cocktails, as always, are stand-outs. Picca's Pisco Sour is always excellent, but it's fall, and I recommend putting aside fears of sweet or murky cocktails and ordering the Sweet Potato Sour. I know, potatoes in cocktails, ew, right? Nope, this one is perfectly balanced, with aged rum, brown sugar, honey, egg white, and just enough sweet potato to clue you in to what you're drinking without going anywhere near the liquified-pie aspect you might suspect.
Causas of spicy albacore, lobster and tricolore with burrata and tomato
I loved the other two we tried almost as much: Pants Down incorporated one of my favorite flavors, apricot, melding apricot brandy, lemon, Aperol, soda water and Cochi Americano aperitif into a refreshing Indian summer cooler. And Cold War Kids is the ideal fall cocktail for those who are still dubious of sweet potato: cognac, sherry, lime and Pisco brandy meet Vietnamese cinnamon syrup for a restrained yet potent holiday feeling.
Lengua with red potato crisps
Don't worry, much of the old menu remains intact. But the new items provide even more reason to go back to Picca if you haven't been there for a while. I usually concentrate mostly on the seafood items - I love the Peruvian style of ceviche, and the scallops with uni were a sensual pleasure. The half lobster with garlic bechamel, paiche fish teriyaki, branzino with huacatay butter and octopus with twice-cooked potato were all worth checking out. I wasn't as taken with the insistently chewy skewered gizzard as some people were, but the tender braised ox tongue (Anticucho lengua) would be enough to change any tonguephobic's mind. Caigua was similar to a stuffed Mexican chili dish but made with the unusual Peruvian vegetable from the cucumber family. Here's to freshening up the menu -- let's toast with a sweet potato cocktail!
Picca Peru
9575 W. Pico Blvd.
Beverly Hills

1 comment:

Gi said...