Lunch at 'Don Francisco', Abancay, Peru

It would seem that ‘Don Francisco’ is a bit of an institution in town, with the locals and also with the alternative kids hanging out in town. Entering through a narrow hallway leads one out into the partially covered patio restaurant whose walls are covered in classic alt rock memorabilia. The green courtyard that lay beyond would be a great place to bask in the sun and knock down some ceviche and cervezas, but as the drizzle had well and truly settled in we chose a table under cover. As the boom box rocked out hits from ‘Come on Eileen’ by Dexys Midnight Runners to The Cure and even a little classic Phil Collins I noticed a very cute imitation ‘Banksy’ had been painted on the wall. It is amazing the way street art, particularly political graffiti, a tradition well established in the Americas, has become increasingly accepted in the west as legitimate art. But I digress, back to the food.

We went with the ceviche mixto made from pota (cuttlefish) and tollo (spotted dog fish). Needless to say I had not had a chance to translate tollo when we ordered and perhaps may have went with the plain pota but so glad we didn’t. The ceviche was excellent – fresh and perfectly limed and salted. The boiled sweet potato on the side seems odd at first until you put it together with the fish and it all makes sense on the palate. Sweet ad soft with the tart lime juice and fleshyness of the fish. Christopher’s ‘seco de res con frijoles’ was simple and again perfectly balanced. The Peruvians know how to season their food. We have not had a bad meal yet. And for the second time, we were treated to the wonderfully salty and nutty, unpopped toasted maize kernels. Why some hipster restaurant in Melbourne hasn’t picked these suckers up yet is beyond me. Foodies out there be on the look out – they are sure to make it to the bar snacks menu of one of the plethora of ‘Mexican’ restaurants that are slowly taking over Melbourne.