Both are fair assessments of the Miami-based Peruvian restaurant offering one of South Florida's largest ceviche selections and creative weekend specialties. One-off dishes have included everything from frogs' legs to alligator and even guinea pig, a Peruvian delicacy. With more than 20 variations of the raw-fish dish on the menu, it's one of the best places to go after a little too much liquor for some hangover-curing leche de tigre.
The name of the restaurant is a reference to the key ingredient responsible for bringing the dead back to life, found in almost all of Brescia's dishes: lime, or limón in Spanish. Aside from its high vitamin C content and antioxidants, lime juice leaves everyone feeling better — "precisely the same feeling everyone should have after visiting a doctor," Brescia says.
It's also how the chef got his nickname "Doctor." Before moving to the States from Peru in the early 2000s, Brescia used to wake up early after long nights of partying to prepare hangover-curing meals for friends and family.
"In Peru, it's customary to give your friends a professional nickname like 'Professor,' 'Engineer,' or 'Doctor,'" says Brescia, who created the funky menu to evoke a culinary doctor-and-patient experience. "It’s a cultural, hood thing to want to exaggerate the importance of your friend. For me, it was a name they gave me as a thanks for my cooking."
The one concoction Brescia would prescribe his hungover companions was leche de tigre — which serves as a base for Dr. Limón's colorful Santo Remidio ($10): seven small shots of leche de tigre prepared using different peppers and ingredients for variations on flavor and color. The original recipe came out of Brescia's trial and error over the years, a combination of his own creativity mixed with his previous knowledge of how to prepare a traditional northern-style Peruvian ceviche.
"Leche de tigre is ceviche juice," Brescia explains. "It’s all the concentrated flavors left behind by the combination of lime, fish stock, onions, garlic, ají limo, and cilantro. It’s good for hangovers because it contains several of the nutrients your body needs after the consumption of alcohol. And the powerful flavor will pretty much slap you back to reality."
Come New Year's Day, Brescia recommends several variations of his popular leche de tigre to relieve the symptoms of just about any hangover, including the Chumpun Doctor ($16), composed of lime-marinated whitefish, shrimp, squid, and octopus mixed with leche de tigre, chopped onions, cancha chulpe (fried peruvian corn), and cilantro and served in a mug; the Nurse Bloody Mary ($16), made with chalaca mix, tomato, and celery; and the Levantate Lazaro ($14), with rocoto, ginger, and shrimp broth.
For those who simply cannot stand long enough to stumble to Dr. Limón, try making your own leche de tigre before your big night out. You'll thank Brescia in the morning.
Carlos Brescia's Basic Leche de Tigre Recipe
- 1 ají limo chili pepper (you can buy it at Publix in the ethnic food aisle)
- 2 cups of lime juice
- 1 cup of fish stock (homemade fish stock is ideal)
- 1 sliced red onion
- 2 ice cubes
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 5 slices of ginger root