Restaurant Review: Morelia

Restaurant Review: Morelia

Hope Ansanelli

The imposing industrial design and oversized coal grill set the stage for the artisanal and hand-crafted cuisine.

(Photo: Diego Escobedo/Living in Peru)
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‘œthe flavors at Morelia are welcoming and not overwhelming. Each dish or each ingredient, rather, were so well measured that every flavor was equally experienced. The well-balanced flavor components combined with the artisanal touch left our palates completely satiated’.

When we eat out, we are not only looking for a dining room away from home. It is a restaurant’s atmosphere and cuisine that allure us. The atmosphere that Morelia has created certainly sets the stage for its cuisine to take the spotlight, and allows us, the guests, to become its audience. The impressive exterior readies its guest for its industrial design on the interior. Morelia proudly displays the building materials that many try to conceal, exposing the raw or unfinished elements that only add to its thoughtfully designed look. The plethora of wood surfaces and metal appliances add a nice earth tone color pop to the interior. The several sculptures and art pieces that adorn the premise give you the vibe of a warehouse art gallery more than a restaurant’¦that is until you see the oversized coal-burning grill where they cook their unique artisanal pizzas.

morelia sun
(Photo: Diego Escobedo/Living in Peru)

On the day that we dined there, the sun was streaming through the windows, adding extra attention to the fine details; the sparkling of the glasses, the warmth of the wood tables, and the magnificence of the art pieces all combined to create a comforting and even romantic experience. The general manager and head chef, who were busy working on the restaurant’s upcoming menu for the winter season, greeted us. The general manager Daniella gave us a tour around the premises; her enthusiasm and love for where she worked were easily transmitted. As we learned about the forming of the interior design- a friend from Spain created this item and the owner’s trip to Argentina led to the installation of that artwork- we quickly realized that this restaurant gained its eclectic soul one piece at a time from those who ador(N)ed it.

There truly is nothing like homemade food, especially when it is flourished by an artisanal touch. We began the culinary experience with the Salmon Tartare- with herbs, avocado and handmade grilled Panini (S/.42) appetizer. I have tried this platter many times before at countless restaurants in Lima, and this was by far the freshest tartar I have eaten. The contrast of flavors from the salty capers, sweet balsamic reduction, smoky salmon, to the half lemony spice of the ginger, overwhelmed our taste buds and left us wanting for more.

(Photo: Diego Escobedo/Living in Peru)

Next up, was the Gnocchi with huancaina sauce- sauteed sirloin strips, tomato and onion (S/.43). The steadiness of the huacatay sauce really appealed to me in this dish. A flavoring ingredient, that for a long time was difficult for me as a foreigner to identify, has quickly become one of my favorites. Too often, however, I am disappointed by a huacatay sauce because it is overly salted. The huacatay sauce on this dish was perfectly balanced, delivering a mild flavor punch. The combination of the sauces created a very strong aromatic dish…you could just keep smelling it all night.

To break up the courses we were served two infused Chilcanos (2X S/.30) – a traditional Chilcano is a Peruvian cocktail based on Pisco (grape brandy). I have never been a big fan of Chilcanos but tasting a fruit and herb infused Chilcano, has me singing a different tune. The fresh fruits and herbs transformed this cocktail into an amazing tasting liqueur that perfectly refreshed my palate.

Our last entrées were two coal-grilled artisanal pizzas, one with a white sauce and the other a red. Almost every ingredient on the pizza was made fresh at the restaurant and reborn by the coal grill. The grilling process drew the flavor out of the dough, and only after 4 minutes, the heat produced a thin, crispy crust with a fluffy texture on the inside. The freshly grated cheese, homemade sauce, and fresh vegetables on top rounded out these exquisite pizzas. Our first sample was a pizza with a red sauce, De La Chacra (S/.38 personal S/.72 grande) served with a ton of grilled veggies on top and a palate pleasing pesto addition. To vary the experience we were next served a white sauce pizza, Montecatini (S.38 personal S/.72 grande), that comes with fresh arugula, prosciutto, and parmesan. The white sauce pizza was definitely our preferred, however, I am an arugula/prosciutto lover.

(Photo: Diego Escobedo/Living in Peru)

Finally, it was time for dessert. We sampled the molten chocolate volcano cake, Volcan De Chocolate (S/. 25), which was served with a homemade raspberry sauce and artisanal vanilla ice cream. The chef did the honor of cutting into the cake, which allowed us the full view of the hot chocolate lava sauce pouring out. Again, the three flavors of the dish, the tart raspberry, the cool fresh vanilla, and hot deep chocolate, helped us to enjoy this dessert; once you were a bit over sweetened by one flavor you could tune it down with the other.

Overall, the flavors at Morelia are welcoming and not overwhelming. Each dish or each ingredient, rather, were so well measured that every flavor was equally experienced. The well-balanced flavor components combined with the artisanal touch left our palates completely satiated.

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