El Gran Combo, a restaurant that for about S/ 20 gives you 750 grams of food that’s divided between four dishes (typically traditional criollo cuisine) expertly prepared along with a menu of fresh seafood options. Now it all sounds a little too perfect and precise. Almost as if I just listed “what I look for in a quaint restaurant.” There’s a soul behind the simplicity that binds it all, and there’s character that keeps it hot and flavorful.
It’s a team effort, just like any restaurant. But here you can feel the flavor everyone adds. Israel Laura is the executive chef, having a strong European culinary formation with a love for Peruvian cooking (as shown in his other restaurant, Kañete), who has teamed up with Gonzalo Pajares, well-known food writer, and his partner Zaid Arauco, who is marketing savvy. In the kitchen you have the Sous Chef, who has worked in the best restaurants in Lima (La Mar, Astrid & Gastón) and whose rich beginnings working in a ceviche booth in the marketplace of Magdalena del Mar give the restaurant their groove.
Israel Laura in his Miraflores’ project, El Gran Combo (Photo: Joseph Diaz/Living in Peru)
The idea of combination dishes stems from a Peruvian dish known as siete colores, or seven colors. It combines seven different elements of Peruvian cuisine and serves them side by side on a single dish. This delicious idea offers an alternative to the typical menú-style of eating which can be found everywhere in Peru. Just as much food but more variation and even more expertise than your run of the mill menú.
Fried Lenguado (Photo: Joseph Diaz/Living in Peru)
Also, when I say that their seafood is fresh, I mean it. Walking in you’ll understand that their capacity for storage is quite limited. This is great news for us as customers! It means that they have to make that grueling trip to the fish markets in the first hours of daybreak to get the most vivid fish for our consumption almost every single day. Their expression of fish is a subtle one, using only the necessary ingredients to make a dish. They also abstain from the use of MSG, which is always a debate among chefs. It’s a goal of Israel’s to develop his own umami in each dish, or use ingredients that have a natural abundance of umami.
Ceviche (Photo: Joseph Diaz/Living in Peru)
Last, but definitely not least, the wine list. Lord almighty it must have been the most impressive wine list I’ve seen compared to a lot of restaurants in Lima, and there were only a couple of things on it. Nothing too expensive (most expensive glass was S/ 25) and they even have suggested pairings. Most of their pisco and national wines are fabricated by the famed Pepe Moquillaza. Their intention here is to have something that’s hard to find in a supermarket.
You can visit El Gran Combo every day from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. and 7 p.m.-11 p.m., from Monday – Sunday with their combos and fresh seafood menu.
El Gran Combo
Manuel Bonilla 113
Combo: S/ 19.90
Fried Lenguado: S/ 40
Fish Chaufa: S/ 35
Ceviche: S/ 25