We just got back from Peru after a week long vacation. Other than it’s rich history, beautiful landscape, colorful culture, friendly locals, and attractive hand-crafts, I absolutely fell in love with the Peruvian cuisine. I was missing the flavors and freshness of their dishes after coming back to The States. So, last Friday, we decided to check out a brand new Peruvian restaurant in Portland, La Leña, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I’m thankful that everyone took my suggestions and agreed to try it. More than that I was happy it didn’t disappoint us at all.
La Leña is a casual yet stylish restaurant in Portland on Hawthorn Blvd. They don’t take any reservations but with it’s fairly nice size, our group of 7 did manage to find tables on a busy Friday night. The price is very reasonable and no need to wait in long line to order. And our beautifully presented dishes were delivered pretty fast too, considering only one chef was actually cooking.
Alright, now let’s come to food. So, we tried alpaca meat in Peru (though my little one wasn’t too happy about it, but aye, I am a foodie and gotta try new stuff), I was REALLY hoping to get those here (?). But ok, they don’t have alpaca steak or grilled guinea pig at La Leña but they had almost everything else that we ate in different parts of Peru. Some of those that I found here are ceviche, Ají de Gallina, pollo a la brasa, lomo saltados, salsa criolla, chicha morada, fresh juice, and Inca Cola just to name a few from the menu. And they all tasted really good. Best ones would probably be pollo a la brasa and lomo saltados, very close to what I had in Peru. They ran out of fresh fish to make ceviche, so couldn’t try it…but the chef offered me he’ll give me a free plate of ceviche next time I go there (a happy customer right here). Make sure to order salsa criolla and their hot sauce with every dish to kick up a notch. Inca Cola tasted slightly different but their fresh juice and chicha morada (a purple corn juice) were ok.
We didn’t try any dessert because we were just too full with our perfectly proportioned plates but to finish off everything, try their Peruvian coffee.
Before I finish, I got to add one extra thing here about La Leña. The customer service here was extraordinary from the minute we entered the place. The chef himself came and apologized for not being able to serve us ceviche. The waiter and waitress made our friend’s birthday eve a special one with their willingness to do every arrangement to make that it a wonderful one. A++ all the way.