Ventarron opened approximately six months ago and is currently enjoying popularity on TripAdvisor, as well as with both tourists and native Peruvians alike. Located directly across from the main square in Barranco, the location could not be better for foot traffic. The prices are a bit more expensive for the Barranco area, however.
The name of the restaurant, Ventarron, pays homage to the archaeological site of a 5,000 year old temple with preserved murals which were recently excavated in 2007 near the city of Chiclayo. The owner, chef, manager and most of the staff are natives from Chiclayo too.
As you walk in the door of Ventarron you notice the unique decor, a mixture of rustic elegance. The restaurant is spacious and has plenty of room for many diners as well as a private room for meetings or reunions.
As seen from the outside, on Av. Grau in Barranco (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)
We sat down and enjoyed three of the more popular house cocktails served at Ventarron (each S/ 20), starting with the Ventarron, a decent concoction of pisco, mint and basil leaves, passion fruit juice and ginger ale. The vodka lover in me really enjoyed the Pasión de Lima, a citrusy and very refreshing blend of vodka, passion fruit and lima fruit juice. The lima fruit is yellow in color, looks like a lemon but is more of a cross between a lemon and a lime and has a sweet flavor. This cocktail was decorated with a dehydrated slice of grapefruit and the peel from the lima fruit. The Sierra Tropical, a flavor-packed cocktail of pisco quebranta, pineapple juice, huacatay (aromatic black mint) and a splash of ginger ale was the table favorite.
Pasion de Lima (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)
Besides the cocktails, Ventarron offers a selection of wines from Peru, Chile, Argentina, Spain, and Italy. If you prefer something without alcohol, they offer a wide variety of fresh juices.
In the past few months, several friends (Peruvians and expats) have contacted me to tell me how much they enjoyed their dining experiences at Ventarron, which made me eager to visit. Recently, I read a review by an infamous food critic here in Lima who basically blasted Ventarron for plagiarizing and copying the food at Fiesta, a popular restaurant in Miraflores that has been around for 20 years. I have to admit, that one of the first thoughts that entered my mind was that Ventarron reminded me of the cuisine at Fiesta, although I have not been there in quite awhile. There are many food trends out there and many restaurants with similar dishes, decor, silverware, etc. It reminds me of the expression, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
Typically the cuisine that hails from the principal city of Chiclayo (located in the northern region of Lambayeque) is robust and intense in flavor and can be rich. The dry, warm desert climate and year-round sunny weather in this area contributes to the abundance of agriculture cultivation of sugar, rice, and many other products. It has the climate and food available that makes it possible for the special flavors of the cabrito (milk-fed, baby goat) and duck that are prevalent in this area. The sunny climate also contributes to the cultivation of the very special loche, a pumpkin or squash indigenous to the northern area of Peru which is used and showcased in many of the traditional dishes from Chiclayo. There is no fusion in this cuisine and it attempts to preserve the traditional flavors. At Ventarron, the food is solid, by-the-books Northern cuisine.
Ceviche marinated in fermented corn (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)
We began our dining experience at Ventarron with a couple starters. The ceviche al fuego en panka (S/ 53) was full of flavor: cubes of extremely fresh mero (grouper) marinated in chicha de jora (fermented beer made from corn), with the addition of a generous amount of an ají amarillo cream, lime and sliced green onions placed in four corn husks and charcoal grilled for a short time. The result was a bold offering of tender grouper which was cooked to perfection along with the zesty, unabashed seasoning and ingredients which made this dish a star at our table.
Our second starter, the tortitas de choclo (S/ 13), arrived on a stone serving platter with 8 slightly crunchy corn croquettes accompanied by a sauce of finely diced white onions, ají pepper and lime. I enjoyed the corn croquettes, but for my liking I would have preferred them to be a bit more crispy in texture.
Tortitas de Choclo to open your appetite (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)
The main dishes were quite large in size and could easily be shared by at least two diners. When it comes to Peruvian northern cuisine, the big draws for me are the duck and goat dishes, but I also observed several tables ordering the lobster and whole fish. Lobster is prevalent on the northern coast of Peru.
Our first main dish was the arroz jugosito con pato (S/ 49) which was a wonderful plate of three large pieces of succulent, cage-free duck breast nestled on top of a combination of Valle Norte green rice, garbanzos, loche (pumpkin squash) and chicha de jora. The duck was quite tender and all the flavors and ingredients were well-elaborated in this very traditional dish. Ventarron showcases three other duck dishes on their menu as well.
Baby goat ribs served over cripsy rice (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)
The costillar de cabrito (S/ 49) was another hit. There were nine baby goat ribs which had been macerated and marinated and cooked on a charcoal grill which were good, but we found ourselves raving even more about the magnificent crunchy crispy rice mixture (tacu tacu) that accompanied the goat. The loche (pumpkin squash), is showcased in the rice mixture and imparted a delicate flavor and added a creamy texture to this tacu tacu. There are a total of three main dishes prepared with goat on the menu.
Espesado (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)
Our last main dish was the espesado (S/ 39). In Spanish, “espesado” translates as “thickened”. Typically this traditional plate from the region of Chiclayo is prepared with meat, pepian de choclo (mixture of ground corn) loche (pumpkin squash), caigua (referred to as a stuffing cucumber, but reminds me more of a mild bell pepper) and cilantro; reminiscent more or less to a seco de res. There is also a red rice on the same platter as the espesado. If you are not a fan of cilantro, most likely this dish is not for you since cilantro is quite prevalent in this dish. We were a bit thrown off by the small plate of ceviche that accompanied this dish. The ceviche was prepared perfectly with fresh corvina. I suppose the richness of this dish accompanied by the lightness of the ceviche has some significance. Evidently this is a traditional dish served typically on Mondays in the north, but is available every day on the menu at Ventarron.
To my delight, we were served my favorite Peruvian dessert, picarones (the Peruvian version of a doughnut). The first plate of picarones was prepared with maíz morada (purple corn). The four picarones were beautiful in their deep purple color, extremely crisp on the outside and had a pillowy texture on the inside. The sauce was excellent as well, as it was prepared with a syrup infused with chicha morada (purple corn, pineapple, cloves and sugar). This was a hit at our table.
Chicha morada picarones (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)
The second plate of picarones was prepared with the traditional pumpkin squash (loche). The portion was also four. The sauce served with these was the traditional syrup with chancaca (unrefined sugar), cloves and other spices. These were good, but not as spectacular as the picarones made with the maíz morada. I also found these to be slightly soggy.
I plan on returning soon with my Peruvian husband. He lived in Chiclayo for many years and enjoys this cuisine. Perhaps next time I will indulge myself and order the dazzling, eye-catching lobster (500 grams) on their menu which is prepared to your preference (three versions offered).
All in all, we had a wonderful dining experience at Ventarron. The quality of food was good all around, ingredients were fresh and the execution was precise. This is a worthwhile destination for those in search of authentic cuisine from Chiclayo. The wait staff seemed to be consistent and attentive at all the tables as well. Thank you to Erik and the staff that served us the day of our visit.
An extra special mention goes to Marco Simola, who captured the photos for this article.
Ventarron Restaurante Chiclayano & Barra
Av. Grau 276
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 12:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.
Sunday: 12:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Valet parking and street parking
Starters: S/. 13-79
Salads: S/. 17-35
Main dishes (duck/goat/beef): S/. 39-55
Main dishes (fish): S/. 47-90
Tablas/Platters for Sharing: S/. 66-90
Side dishes: S/. 10-13
Juices: S/. 10-12
Beer: S/. 9-17
Wine list: S/. 75-310
Cocktails: S/. 17-28