Pier 1 1/2, On the Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111 | 415.397.8880 | website
Mr. K and I had lunch last weekend at La Mar Cebichería Peruana, which is on historic Pier 1½ along the scenic Embarcadero waterfront, a mere hop, skip and a jump down from the Ferry Building. I knew Mr. K would love this place and the fact that they were were offering a 3-course lunch for under $20 ($18.95) for Dine About Town (DAT2014) just sweetened the deal. The restaurant was designed by Cass Calder Smith who worked on many local restaurants (Lulu, Perbacco, Delica-rf, 25 Lusk, Lake Chalet in Oakland), who traveled to Lima Peru to visit the flagship location and to explore the cuisine of celebrated Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio. He transported elements of the Lima original to the 11,000 square feet waterfront restaurant which has 340 seats and includes two bars (a Pisco bar, a cebiche bar), the large sky lit dining room and outside patio which offers spectacular views of the bay. This is the “Pisco Bar,” named after Peru’s national liquor, with seating for 50.
We sat on the covered patio which has discrete overhead heaters that keep the temperature cozy year round. The only downside is that there are boats coming and going, and at some point a low slung power boat zoomed by leaving a plume of exhaust fumes that lingered unpleasantly.
While enjoying crisp refreshing beers our server dropped off a basket full of paper thin sweet potato chips and thicker starchy fried plaintain strips, along with two dipping sauces. We liked the red one, which was garlicky and spicy, the yellow one was bland and mayonnaise-y.
The next course was the Causa Pollo, a mashed potato dumpling infused with rocoto chili pepper, topped with pulled chicken, celery, avocado puree and ocopa sauce. This was good, but the topping was similar to chicken salad, which was garnished with a bit of tomato and a tiny wedge of quail egg and just didn’t ring any bells for me.
The entree was a steaming bowl of Conchas Marineras, full of mussels and clams in an aji amarillo and chica de jora broth, garnished with sticks of fried yucca, served with a bowl of arroz con choclo. This was flavorful and lip smackingly delicious, the sticks of fried yucca were light and airy inside.
We spooned the rice and choclo corn mixture into the savory broth, which was an excellent combination
For dessert we enjoyed two small scoops of sorbet garnished with bits of candied spun sugar and fresh mint leaves. Our server thought they were fresh berry and pineapple/strawberry, but I liked to think that one tasted like either Guava or Passionfruit and the other was Chicha Morada Sorbet…
On the way out I snuck a peek into the lovely space of the “Cebiche Bar”, which seats approximately 60 and has cozy sofas where people sprawl out while waiting to be seated.
Beautiful and dramatic lighting…
I say run to take advantantage of this Dine About Town deal, a 3 course lunch is a steal for $18.95 (plus an extra course of dessert), when normally one serving of cevich is $14! They also have a daily Happy Hour from 3-6 and sandwiches on the menu for those who are looking for frugal feasts in this area of high $$$ dining. And despite the swanky atmosphere, it actually seems to be family friendly as we were seated next to a table with three very young children, whom the very responsive parents were able to quickly take out for a walk along the Embarcadero whenever one began to squall.