1111 Peruvian Bistro, located at 1111 SW First Ave. in Miami, isn't trying to reinvent the wheel, but with its small and humble menu, the restaurant showcases an evolution in Peruvian cookery not occurring in other South Florida kitchens.
The eatery is co-owned by the former proprietors of Trattoria Sole and Mixt Sushi in South Miami: Martin Monteverde, Bernhard Scholl, and chef Diego Muñoz.
Chef Muñoz studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Canada and France and has worked at some of the most influential restaurants in the world, including El Bulli and Mugaritz in Spain, the Grand Vefour in France, and Astrid y Gastón in Peru.
While at Astrid y Gastón, Muñoz took over Gastón Acurio’s kitchen and helped develop the Casa Moreyra concept. He has long been an ambassador of Peruvian food. The chef, who travels the world, personally trained his current staff and has entrusted executive chef
1111 Peruvian Kitchen's concept is one best described in its hashtag: #HonestKitchen. Partner Monteverde explains, “The concept stands for the fact that everything in our menu is not something that we are selling you but, rather, we are giving you — meaning we’re not writing 'filet mignon' and giving you an inferior cut; we’re not saying ‘fish of the day’ and giving you swai or tilapia. You’re gonna get corvina, snapper, yellowtail, never anything of a lesser grade. We’re not in the market market; we’re in the fresh-product market.
“Every plate has a little extra care, not abundance, and everything is prepared à la minute.” Boasting very little storage space and a small walk-in cooler in lieu of a walk-in freezer means that freshness is not a buzzword but a daily necessity here. This philosophy carries over into a few aspects of the menu, including the outright ban of grouper due to it depleted stock and the substitution of duck terrine for pâté de fois gras because of the cruelty often associated with the industry.
Bringing Peru’s latest trends to a small and open kitchen in Brickell is no easy task, but Chef Muñoz has taken to his role as ambassador well. In contemporary Peruvian kitchens, the focus has shifted back to tradition and coaxing flavors out of the best ingredients. In the classic lomo saltado, a perfectly cooked filet mignon comes with the usual
Another Peruvian favorite, anticucho ($24), comes in a three-way preparation with a tender and beefy veal heart, grilled octopus, and chicken livers. It's pleasantly devoid of sandiness and the mineral taste that turns most folks off to giblets. The proteins come atop a sweet corn cream and fried boiled potatoes ladled generously with a carretillero sauce.
A good way to start is with Blue Point oysters, garnished with dashi, caviar, and pickled chalaca. The price is a bit hefty at $18, but because the dish pairs so well with a cold pint of Blue Point beer, it’s an easily justifiable luxury. Fried calamari jalea ($16) uses a house-made rice pilaf flour that gives the soft cephalopod a hearty and crunchy consistency that mimics pop rocks with a savory twist.
A causa made with king crab and poached chicken ($16) elevates the humble potato dish, while a pot of soupy steamed mussels ($14.50) hints at a Belgian pedigree. The most far-off-the-playing-field item is the duck-and-prune terrine with pear chutney and country bread. Maybe not what one would think of as Peruvian fare, but it's certainly a bistro item ($17.50).
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Vegetarians and diners with shellfish allergies can phone ahead to make arrangements with the kitchen or can choose to assemble a dish from the sides listing – all vegetarian options. “We’ve taken the food that everybody knows and cooked it in a different manner,” Monteverde says proudly. “We’re not a traditional Peruvian restaurant. We use European techniques, reductions, and sauces. Everything is fresh, and we know there are people who appreciate this.”
In addition to a manageable 28 items on the menu, 1111 Peruvian Bistro has walking access to Metromover stations, street parking, and valet. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. and for dinner Monday through Wednesday from 6 to 10:30 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 6 to 11:30 p.m. for dinner. It's closed Sunday.