Diners already have plenty to say about the first New York location of high-end Peruvian chain La Mar Cebicheria, which opened its doors to the public just a little over a week ago. Most reviewers—Mario Batali included—enjoyed executive chef Victoriano Lopez's seafood-centric menu and cocktails, while others had complaints regarding service and authenticity. Reviewers do seem to share the opinion that architect Stephanie Goto's remodeling of this former Tabla space adds a positive note to the dining experience.
From the Tipline: One reviewer wrote to Eater, "I went to the soft opening, and let me just say that everything was delicious. I had wanted the lobster for my main course, but they were out, and so I got the lamb shoulder/ chop, which was very good. We pretty much had everything on the menu, but the highlights were: the causas tasting—and every single one was delicious, the antichuchos, aji de gallina, and for dessert, which I don't see on the menu online, the green tea cheesecake stole the show! I have never been to the Tabla space, but this new design was very modern and chic. There is a piece of wall art made out of Peruvian corn, which is a little mind blowing! I can say with 100% certainty that I will be back!" [Eater Inbox]
The Great News: Aside from one Urbanspoon reviewer who thought the Pisco Sours were "too lemony", the consensus is that La Mar's rendition of the Peruvian classic is spot on. One Eater commenter said, "Best Pisco Sour I ever had (including the ones I had in Lima)." [Urbanspoon]
The Batali News: In an interview with Grub Street, Mario Batali has only good things to say about his experience at La Mar. "It was a spectacular meal, just so nice and so light and so thoughtful. The staff was well trained. It didn't feel like an opening, it felt like a great restaurant in a great city. Maybe not New York." [Grub Street]
The Rave: The Eater commenters so far seem wowed: "We had lunch there Friday (across the room from Mario Batali). Even he couldn't take the spotlight away from the ceviches which were spectacular. The Aroz con Pato and Caldo de Gallina were delicious, and the Kumquat confit parfait capped it all off perfectly. Real Peruvian cuisine is finally here!" [Eater Comments]
More Good News: The only Menupages reviewer gives high praise: "Went with my fiancee for the soft opening. Service was great, staff was friendly, accommodating and attentive to just the right degree. The food was incredible! The ceviche popular especially, was so tasty. The aji de gallina fritters were incredible and the lomo soltada was delish! Pisco sour was the perfect flavor to round out the dishes. I would highly recommend going." [Menupages]
The Possible Shill: This is the rave from a Yelper who opened an account last year, but suspiciously hasn't reviewed any place until now. "This was the first time I had Peruvian food. It was delicious. My friends and I went to the soft opening for LUNCH and was able to try a few dishes. We ate everything on our plates~! The drinks were well mixed and there were a lot of variety!I loved the Pisco Sour and Chichi Morado. Cebiches: Limeno (red snapper, octopus, calamari, scallops and shrimp), Nikei (tuna) and Tiradito la mar (hamachi, peruvian corn and scallions) were delicious! Piqueos: Jalea was sooo good... Platos de Fondo (Entrees): OMG....We stuffed ourselves, but it was worth it. Arroz con Mariscos (calamari, octopus, shrimp, scallops, catch of the day), Lomo saltado (steak, scallions, quail egg and organic fried potatoes), Arroz con pato (duck-leg confit) were amazing! and OOoMmMMGggg... desserts were to die for.... and I'm not even a dessert person." [Yelp]
The Bad Egg News: One La Mar diner apparently doesn't like quail eggs, La Mar's inability to substitute for chicken eggs, less. "Also what's up with the quail eggs? UGH! when I asked the quail eggs to be replaced with regular ones, I was told they didn't have any! What restaurant doesn't have something as basic as eggs!?? Anywho, I'll probably give it a shot in a couple of months and hopefully a lot of the issues will have been resolved. But for now, I'll stick to avoiding peruvian food in the city." [Yelp]
She said/She said: After trying executive chef Victoriano's food, one Yelper gave Peruvian cuisine in general a bad grade. "Terrible restaurant...If this is what typical Peruvians eat they I am sure they must have short life spans due to this unbelievably unhealthy diet which no doubt will lead to an early death from heart disease or cancer."
And another Yelper comes into the thread just to respond: "To Mary B: Even though I have not been to La Mar in NY (I gave the most neutral rating only in order to post my comment), your unfair comments and negative attitude drew my attention. Or you might be confused, and went to some other restaurant. Most Peruvian food is not deep fried and we don't eat unhealthy portions of refined carbs. Dishes mentioned by other reviewer, such as cebiche, are completely nonfat, period. Aji de gallina, causa, anticuchos, etc. are not even fried. The only deep fried items mentioned would be the jalea and the picarones. Peruvians have a more diverse, healthier diet than Americans, and we have lower rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer than the US. Just check the statistics and compare them before making such statements. Please, don't try Peruvian food again, and avoid making comments full of prejudice." [Yelp]