The first thing I have to tell you about Llama Inn in Williamsbutg is how gorgeous it is. Out of all the Peruvian I’ve been to in NYC, this is possibly the best looking. Albeit oddly situated in a not so attractive location by the highway. In fact I’m pretty sure the last time I came here this building was a gas station surrounded by other gas stations. The space is stylish even for the hotel filled chic Williamsburg standards. Designed by Joseph Foglia Designs, one can see how much time and effort went into this project.
The second thing I have to tell you is that we hardly saw any of this. As soon as I saw the space I regretted not bringing my big boy camera as there was plenty of light outside. But by the time the food start arriving I was content with my little boy phone. It was dark! It may sound cliche but we do like to use all of our senses while eating. A well crafted dish doesnt need to be pretty but it needs to be seen. Its like you get a prize for best tattooed arm in the country fair, and you decide to cover it up in the evenings. We essentially turned into my father in law.
The third thing I have to tell you is that midway through the meal we realized something we rarely experience in NYC. At mid 40’s we were the oldest couple in the room. This is a place that got significant buzz and praise when it first opened, and this was totally unexpected. We were that odd couple in need of hearing aid and glasses. Both kinds of glasses I should add. The staff was professional alright, even when we politely asked for ‘regular’ wine glasses to replace the stemless.
And what is it with the stemless glasses lately. Are they trying to be cool and trendy forgetting that we are creatures of habit. I’m all for moving forward and design that make things simpler. But getting white wine in what looks like a regular water glass feels like a regression in dining elegance. What will the restaurants do once wine scientists discover that plastic cups is the best way to serve your Gewurztraminer.
The food was a mixed bag. The best sounding items on the menu were large dishes that seemed a lot more expensive ($60’s) than they should be. A whole Branzino at $60 better be the baddest Branzino in town. Same for the Tenderloin sit fry ($68)
Anticucho – These little skewers feel like street food one can find off the streets of Lima for 25 cents. In Williamsburg they go for $5-8 a pop. For about $2 per bite you do get pleasant complex flavors out of the chicken and pork belly. But I would skip the Shrimp
Quinoa – One of the more popular dishes here for some reason. With the occasional presence of bananas and bacon not every spoonful is the same which normally is a good thing but not here. With her getting all the bacon and me getting all the bananas, something has to give. Its like the Russian roulete of Quinoa
Sea Bream Tiradito – Best dish by far. Although the Sashimi is swimming in sauce the acidity is restrained. And the occasional Cancha (toasted corn kernels) added a nice crunch. The one dish that reminded me that I’m eating Peruvian
Rock Shrimp – This should not be a surprise if you do your homework. But while the rest of the menu lists the main ingredient first, this is more of a well crafted seafood paella. It includes rock shrimp but also mussels, squid and clams. Some of the seafood is breaded which just didnt work for us
Short Rib. Another meh! Slightly overcooked meat with grilled summer beans that stole the show.
50 Withers St, Williamsburg
Rating: One Z (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Tiradito