For years we've been drawn towards Peruvian cuisine, considered one of the world's earliest forms of fusion due to its long multicultural history — starting with the land's indigenous Incas later adding influences from European, Asian and African immigrants. Tonight we wanted to delve deeper into this vast treasure — beyond the ceviches, empanadas and tamales we are all familiar with.
Our destination would be Solymar, a seafood/charcoal grill outfit we've driven in front of countless times. The stretch of Saint-Laurent Boulevard in Villeray that houses the eatery happened to be desolate on this particular Thursday night, reflecting the quiet dining room inside; and easily securing us both a parking spot and table for our visit here.
Reggaeton vibes were in full swing when we arrived at 8:30 p.m. — with video clips on the overhead TV sets to boot! A handful of large family gatherings were finishing their dinner at the sparsely-occupied two-story dining area. Those were later replaced by a modest flock of late-night diners — younger couples, packs of dudes — as the soundtrack mellowed down to a steady salsa rhythm.
The dictionary-length menu will overwhelm you with choices ranging from appetizers, salads, ceviches and soups to croquettes, fish, Creole dishes and parilladas (grilled meats). The offering seems to cover the country's diverse culinary lineage previously mentioned. If it all proves too much, a concise prix fixe menu may alleviate the task of choosing — but we trusted our gut and went à la carte.
Zesty, chunky guacamole scooped into halved avocado skins along with tasteless boiled medium shrimps — not jumbo as listed on the menu.
Tough, rubbery squid rings devoid of any crispness from the batter could not be salvaged by any amount of citrus or accompanying sauce.
This is where things start looking up. A butterflied rosé filet mignon had a welcome charcoal flavor and came with a lump of rice and basic house salad.
The man/woman duo on duty for the night took good care of us with minimal interaction. Beers were served promptly and dishes arrived at a comfortable pace. Let's just describe the service as to-the-point.
Our goal of discovering Peru's complex cuisine was thwarted by our own actions. Instead of going for exotic items with the likes of jalea, papa a la huancaína or a Creole stew, we erred and played it safe with our choices. We'll hold ourselves from awarding Solymar a final verdict until a future visit; for now, we can at least attest that the charcoal-grilled meat fared better than the boiled/fried seafood.
tagged: DESERVES A RETRY
Price per person: $37.40
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.