Vibrant Peru at CVI.CHE 105

CVI.CHE 105 brings bold Peruvian flavors to a dazzling setting

When you think of Peruvian food, ceviche is what usually comes to mind. For that reason, CVI.CHE 105 takes its name from that national dish. But Peruvian cuisine, considered today the most inventive in Latin America, goes well beyond the citrus flavors of marinated seafood, as refreshing and healthy as that may be.

If you want to delve into the wide array of flavors that Peru has to offer, there is no better place than the new CVI.CHE 105 at The Plaza Coral Gables. While this incipient chain has four other locations in Miami-Dade, the Gables locale is now the flagship, with a stunning, cavernous interior that feels like a Hollywood movie set. The walls are adorned with back-lit photos of green scaled fish, blue mermen, and Peruvian warriors; the interior columns are illuminated in purple and hung with woven baskets; gold trim and a huge quartz rock hang down from the ceiling; and over the entrance to the kitchen is a sign that reads “SHOWTIME.”

That says it all, from waiters with vests emblazoned with tropical flora to the DJ ensconced just off the entrance. The whole scene is larger than life.

For more sedate diners with refined sensibilities, you might think this is too much, especially with the deep-beat house music. But they keep the decibels at the right level for conversation, and in the end, the glitter and glamour of the setting takes you somewhere far, far away from the Gables. And then there is the food.

With all the visual energy of CVI.CHE 105, you might think the food takes second place to the experience of being there, in our new world of entertainment dining. But the food is the real star here.

The menu is rich with seafood, a refreshing cast in a city where seafood establishments are few and far between. The offerings include a fine selection of tiraditos (think carpaccio of fish, scallops, octopus, etc.), ceviches, and rolls, along with an array of fried and grilled selections of mahi mahi, snapper, Pacific white fish, shrimp, etc. Then there are the causas, layered potato dishes (remember that potatoes came from Peru) typically covered with yellow peppers, crab meat, avocado, creamy fish ceviche, etc.

Next are traditional rice dishes, with different mixes of seafood, vegetables, and meats, followed by entrees of pork, chicken, and beef. It is a daunting selection to say the least, augmented by a special fine dining menu only available at this location.

We tried the arroz charapa, which our waiter described as a meal from the forest people of Peru. Prepared in a wok, it includes vegetables, short ribs, plantains, wild mushrooms, and a poached egg, which he mixed into the rice table-side. Deeply savory with a smoky flavor to it. Also in the rice family, we tried a tacu tacu dish, where a cake of white rice is fried so it has a crispy edge and soft interior, then covered with a mix of seafood, beef, or pork, plus peppers, onions, tomatoes, and their “secret sauce.” This is a dish worth returning for.

On the seafood side, we tried the Pargo Caribeño, a whole deboned snapper fried in chunks, paired with crispy shrimp and laced with leche de tigre tartar. Crunchy and satisfying, with a nice burst of sharp flavor.

Of course, we could not resist trying the special menu only for the Gables. From that, we sampled an exquisite Cola Voluptuosa: fresh lobster slow cooked in a rocoto butter sauce and served with fresh asparagus stalks. It tasted as good as it sounds. We also tried the Ceviche Da Vinci, which consists of scallops dressed in a rainbow of pepper sauces, as appealing to the eye as it is to the tongue.

The rest of CVI.CHE 105 was on the same high level, from their specialty cocktails to a dessert menu that includes an amazing chocolate cake and the traditional creamy suspiro limeño. All is under the gastronomic guidance of master chef Juan Chipoco, with their motto “Peruvian Cuisine Starts Here.” It does a lot more than start here. It takes that cuisine to a place in the pantheon of fine dining, in an atmosphere as bold as the flavors it promulgates. 

111 Palermo Ave.