There are a few relatively new restaurants in my hometown of London, Ontario that I’ve wanted to check out, but for one reason or another, our paths have yet to cross. One such restaurant serving inspired Latin American cuisine is Che Resto Bar on Dundas Street.
Now I guess I’m showing my age a bit and my perceived blurred lines of the spacetime continuum, as I was sure Che opened only a year or so ago. Chatting with charming and gregarious owner Marvin Rivas, I found out Che has been on the London restaurant scene for over two and a half years. And after our first glorious meal there last week, we have some serious catching up to do!
To start with, Che Resto Bar has to be one of the more stylish restaurants in town. The exposed brick and large and colourful paintings adorning the walls are a feast for the eyes. And with the perfect mood lighting and the Flamenco, Salsa and Bossa Nova music playing in the background, your mind is transported to Latin America just before your taste buds experience the same pleasure.
As mentioned in previous reviews, I really respect restaurants that have the confidence to present a small and well thought out menu. Stop trying to appeal to a hundred different palettes with a menu that is 10 pages long and a flavour profile that is all over the map. Know what you do well and leave the filler dishes off the menu. And with a tight but very appealing 17 appetizers and entrees on the menu, Che offers a reasonable variety of dishes, while staying true to the rich and distinctive culinary heritage of Latin America.
After enjoying a delicious Mojito and one of the best lagers on the planet, Barcelona’s Estrella Damm, we decided on our appetizers. We love calamari, but it can be a delicate act not to overcook and serve a rubbery and tasteless dish. Che’s Corn Crusted Calamari served with an avocado, lime-cilantro aioli and an addictive fruity and spicy sauce are cooked perfectly. Tender and delicious with a nice crunch from the corn crust. We also ordered the Ceviche Nikei featuring tuna in a tamarind Leche de Tigre, avocado, jicama, red onion and yam. Love the “Tiger’s Milk” dressing – the Peruvian term for the citrus-based marinade that cures the fish or seafood in a ceviche. A super flavourful and satisfying dish.
For our entrees, we ordered the Mole Roasted Chicken Breast Supreme served with zucchini noodles, roasted tomatoes, pimento rosemary cream sauce and crispy Serrano ham. What a flavour bomb of a dish. A lot of pronounced flavours that blend together perfectly in a symphony of amazing taste. We also ordered the Guajillo Ahi Tuna with organic quinoa salad, arugula, beets, carrots, passion fruit sauce and crispy plantain. In a word…awesome. Seared Ahi tuna has to be one of the prettiest dishes you can serve, with the bright magenta meat and the seared crust border. And this dish tastes as good as it looks. Meat was moist and tender and the sweet and savoury accompaniments complemented the dish and brought a nice contrast of texture. Delicious.
Since we were enjoying our evening so much, we decided to extend our meal a bit, and shared a decadent and delicious Guava Fruit Crème Brûlée. Crème Brûlée is probably my favorite dessert, and this one did not disappoint. Beautifully creamy custard texture under the crisp and crunchy caramelized sugar crust was the perfect end to our meal. Che also has a nice wine list with some great and affordable selections to complement the excellent food.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the excellent customer service at Che. As a fellow business owner, I really appreciate the fact that owner Marvin Rivas is working the front of the house and interacting with his guests. Both Marvin and our server were very knowledgeable and friendly. Marvin was nice enough to offer us a nightcap on the house – a delicious libation of Vintage Rum and fresh pomegranate and passion fruit nectar. The perfect end to a perfect meal.
We’re looking forward to our return visit to Che Resto Bar. This time, I think we’ll order the incredible looking Chimichurri Ribeye Steak and the enormous Double Pork Chop Adobo. Paired with a rich and robust red wine, I think we’ll be in heaven. Highly recommended. For now, back to the cage.