For about three years now, Lima’s fame as a dining destination has had an unexpected extra – it’s not just fine dining at some of the continent’s best restaurants, or masterful fresh ceviche and seafood platters, it’s also arguably the most interesting place to eat meat in South America.
All thanks to Renzo Garibaldi, a Lima native who in his time working in the US and France, would learn to love and respect the craft of butchery and charcuterie. He brought this passion and growing mastery back home and on opening his butchery late in 2013 word spread fast. Not only was his tiny space stacked high with sausages, cured meats, and a range of beef and pork cuts rarely seen in Lima, but at the far end sat a fridge, the wire racks bending under rows of 30 pound cuts of porterhouse and prime rib. Let's take a look inside.
It is the rarely encountered, precious flavors of expertly aged meats and cuts that people have come hunting over the past years; to the butcher shop, to the private shared table tasting dinner hosted in the back room, which seems to have a permanent two month waiting list, and now, to his restaurant, opened up a year after the butcher shop, and as of early 2016 finally offering an abbreviated version of that famed back-room dinner. TLK rolled up its sleeves and dove into this new meat experience at Osso.
The menu begins with a masterful display of charcuterie, roast ham, roast beef, frezzola (the best of the lot), pancetta and Spanish chorizo, backed up by a rillet clearly born of Garibaldi’s time in France, a quite remarkable meat broth, and smoked cheese breads. The pace steps up with easily the best tartar in town, made from 21 day aged Wagyu and served with dehydrated corn pudding crisps. About this time you should already have delved into the wine menu, wide ranging and well curated, it goes from an excellent selection by the glass to $500 iconic wines from the U.S,, Spain, and Italy.
The inventiveness continues with a Wagyu ceviche, its Nikkei-style leche de tigre (the lime-based sauce) a curious and surprisingly tasty foil for the raw tender beef strips, with crunchy julienned white onion and chili laying down a pleasant punch. The mini scotch egg, a quail egg cooked at low temperature, wrapped in a house ham and fried with panko , is topped with a delicious onion relish, flavored with chili, cocona fruit, wild jungle cilantro, and charcoal oil.
Next up is Garibladi’s famous mini slider on his perfectly light in-house baked brioche bun, which serves as a opening salvo for the pure meat courses to come. Each of these courses, the stars of the show, appear as two or three slices, almost reverentially laid out on a plate, only slightly grilled, quite rare and demanding careful consideration of each bite.
The array begins lightly, with Wagyu flanken short ribs with a sugar and soya marinade and then moves right into the showstopper, (pictured) local Peruvian bife angosto (NY strip steak), aged 150 days. The texture is closer to pancetta than rare beef and the flavor has a deep soulful umami funk; this is Marven Gaye, in meat.
The 7th course lands with three slices of 50 day aged Angus NY Strip (possibly the perfect age for this cut). It's gently rich and butter-like tender. In a perfect world, all steak would be cooked like this.
The penultimate barrage, the same cut, but this time a 60 day Wagyu (pictured) delivers a new appreciation for the breed and its heavily marbled meat. It reaps the benefit of the additional ageing, the intramuscular fat reduced but concentrated.
The menu wraps up with slices of pork shoulder, as a gentle reminder that all is not beef here, and an appreciation for the work Garibaldi has done to source top quality pork nearby. A few dessert courses tie the knot on the meal and there’s not much left to do but order a coffee, watch the enormous grill at the far end belch flames and sparks, and consider the difference between your run of the mill steakhouse and this, a real butcher's restaurant.