Pastuso has to be one of Melbourne’s most interesting new openings this year. It brings an underrated cuisine to Melbourne and does it with lots of buzz in the process. Unfortunately the menu is a little hit and miss.
Down a laneway off Flinders Lane the restaurant opens up over several levels. Instead of the woollen wall hangings you might expect there are gold and timber accents, neon posters on the walls and an open kitchen to add some entertainment.
If you read the reviews of Pastuso on Urbanspoon Melbourne’s Peruvians are not impressed with its authenticity. But if (like me) you’re happy to see some ceviche and “tigers milk” you’ll be happy. There’s a whole section of the menu devoted to ceviche – the ceviche peruano made with cured snapper and sweet potato is light and zingy.
From the “Peruvian street food” section of the menu the cassava chips ($11) sounded a lot better than they were. They were undercooked and dense and soggy rather than fluffy and crisp.
Pastuso’s croquettes could have also done with a crispier exterior ($12) although the beef brisket filling was tender and melt in your mouth.
Once the menu progresses past the deep frier it’s back on better ground. Slow cooked pork belly ($19) is delicious: crisp, crunchy thanks to a quinoa coating and teamed perfectly with a puree of sweet potato with a hit of orange. It’s one of the most exciting dishes I’ve eaten all year. It just goes to show that if you order wisely Pastuso can be a lot of fun.
Details: Pastuso, 19 ACDC Lane Melbourne (Ph 03 9662 4556)