By Dane Feldman
Mixto ceviche. Photos by Dane Feldman.
Raymi is a Peruvian restaurant and pisco bar located on West 24th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue open daily for dinner and happy hour. Not only is Raymi the first Peruvian restaurant reviewed here on Dish + Drink, it is also the first Peruvian restaurant I have been to.
Aguadito de mariscos.
Raymi’s menu is a rather interesting one in its setup. The sections include ceviche and tiraditos, small plates, large plates, table (entrees listed here are for two), chef’s corner, and sides.
The chef’s corner is comprised of just a few entrees, which are being tested by the staff at Raymi. The items are available only from Thursday to Saturday.
The rest of the dinner menu, however, is fair game and there are plenty of options from which to choose. My family and I started off with the mixto ceviche: aji rocoto, shrimp, squid, octopus, and sweet potato. I tend to veer away from ceviche because it is typically cilantro-heavy (and I am plagued with cilantro hatred), so I was grateful to see this item on the menu. We practically licked the bowl clean and if we hadn’t already had our hearts set on some large plates, we would have ordered a second helping.
For my main course, I ordered the carapulcra, but not before much deliberation over the arroz con pollo (roasted chicken, aji Amarillo jasmine rice, fried banana, salsa criolla, and aji verde), the anticucho (hanger steak, choclo, confit potato, and rocoto sauce), and the chicharron sliders (crispy pork shoulder, sweet potato, salsa criolla, and spicy mayo). Seriously, everything on this menu sounded so fantastic that I was practically pulling my hair out.
As it turns out, the carapulcra was pretty fantastic too. The most beautiful roasted pork belly was served over Andean style potatoes with roasted peanuts and salsa criolla. I was full about 20 minutes before I stopped eating, but the dish was so delicious I couldn’t help myself. The pork belly was great quality and tasted like the most perfect bacon and the Andean style potatoes were unlike any other potato preperation I have encountered. They were chopped small and gritty in a good way mixed with thick sauce so indulgent I could have eaten it on its own like it was soup.
Arroz con pato.
My mother ordered the arroz con pato: crispy duck leg and cilantro jasmine rice, served with dark beer and salsa criolla. The duck was juicy and delicious and the rice was the perfect amount of cilantro-y for my taste (read: not too much, but still flavorful on its own). My father ordered the aguadito de mariscos: a beautiful soup comprising of shrimp, octopus, calamari, mussels, roasted squash, piquillo peppers, choclo, rice, and cilantro. The dish was wonderful, but arguably could have contained just a bit more of the seafood.
Raymi is just as much a bar as it is a restaurant. The full bar serves an all-night happy hour on Sundays and Tuesdays as well as a two-hour happy hour (from 5-7) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Happy hour consists of several pisco cocktails, wine, sangria, and Peruvian beer.
If happy hour isn’t your jive, Raymi also offers a full drinks menu. Wines by the glass, Peruvian, Argentinian, and Mexican beers are available. But Raymi is primarily a pisco bar and the menu consists of over 10 different piscos. If you aren’t willing to try pisco, Raymi also has a large selection of whiskey, tequila, and rum.
I wanted the full experience, though, so I ordered a pisco sour: pisco 100, lime, egg whites, and bitters. I’ve had fresh whiskey sours and vodka sours, but a pisco sour is above and beyond. It seems that the grape brandy really pairs well with the other ingredients. I will definitely be ordering pisco cocktails in the future.
Patrons can eat at the ceviche bar, the regular bar, or anywhere else in the large restaurant’s seating areas. The restaurant itself is dimly lit and well decorated. The ceilings are high, the seating is comfortable, and the sections (bar, ceviche bar, communal tables, and dining tables) make it feel cozy despite the space’s size.
The service is extremely friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable. Even the busboy was passionate and stopped to talk to our table about pisco’s history.
We did have a slight issue with the check, but it was a simple computer error and everything was cleared within minutes.
All in all, Raymi offers an experience unlike many others in the area and I am dying to return for another meal.