Ah, Labor Day! While the rest of Miami was grilling or fighting for parking spots on the beach, I decided that it was a great day for Peruvian food. More specifically, it was a great opportunity to try out Dr. Limon, which opened recently in Kendall. Word on the street is that the owner used to work at Cvi.che 105 in Downtown Miami, which is another popular spot for higher end Peruvian food in the area. With sparse decor in the dining area and quirky names like “Remedio Casero” (Home Remedy) and Psiquiatra (Psychiatrist) for their signature ceviches, Dr. Limon has recently made a name for itself in the Kendall area.
The restaurant itself is pretty small, and tucked away in a run-down strip mall. Unless you came looking, you would probably never find out it was here. I’d heard horror stories of long waits to be seated, so we came as close to opening time as possible. There were already 4 other tables seated, but we still had our pick of tables, and were brought a small shot glass once we settled in.
I was informed that this is called Leche de Tigre (Tiger’s Milk). When ceviche is prepared, this is the by-product, which they drink as a purported hangover cure. So, all of that lime, onion, fish, and pepper is concentrated into a glass and served as an accompaniment to your dish. I was nervous to try it at first, but took a sip at the urging of one of my companions. It was an interesting mix of fresh lime taste and the salty brine of seafood. This was served cold, but I was informed that certain regions of Peru also serve it hot.
The natural juices, at $6 each, seemed a bit on the pricey side. That is, until they brought out the huge glass. My passion fruit juice was perfect. I ordered the Centro de Lima appetizer, which featured both a traditional ceviche and jalea mixta (fried seafood tossed in traditional Peruvian marinade). I asked for zero spice, and the server brought it out and said they added a small bit of spice, but that I could send it back if it was too much. It wasn’t. In fact, that slight bit of heat at the end of each bite really brought the dish together. The jalea side of the dish was equally delicious, especially the pieces towards the bottom that had soaked up more marinade. The fish and shrimp were incredibly fresh, and the fried pieces were tender and not rubbery or dry. The Centro de Lima is prepared with mixed seafood, but you can request all fish, all shrimp, or only fish and shrimp for an additional cost. Also, a shout out to the adorable baby in the back, whom I didn’t share my food with. Maybe next time!
For the record, Peruvians eat ceviche as a meal in and of itself. I learned this fact after ordering the Centro de Lima as my appetizer, and having my friend politely inform me that it was not an appetizer, but an entrée. Well, we’re all about breaking the rules here at The Broke Baker, so it was an appetizer, and the Lomo Saltado was my entrée. As you can see, it’s quite a generous portion. The beauty of the dish was the complexity of the sauce, which was GREAT to let the fries soak in to catch the flavor. The meat was tender and plentiful, leaves of fresh cilantro were in almost every bite, and the rice was just the right amount for the dish. I probably would have preferred the rice a bit softer, but it didn’t matter after I let it soak up the rest of the tasty sauce.
Their passion fruit creme brulee was another experience. Upon taking my first bite, I was a bit surprised that the custard was at about room temperature, not cold. The sugar crust was thin, and the passion fruit actually gave the custard a bit of tang.
One thing we noticed during our meal was the abundance of “off-menu” items offered at Dr. Limon. You would see a dish go to a table nearby, and if you asked the server what it was she would say that it wasn’t on the menu, but that you could ask for it. I suppose this is the type of place where it would pay to become a regular and be “in the know” of all of the items offered that you won’t see on the menu. I’d be interested in going back and trying something new.
I really enjoyed my meal at Dr. Limon. The server was very attentive and knowledgeable of the menu and of Peruvian culture. If you’re ever in the area, I recommend giving them a shot. Just hold off on placing your order until you see what’s heading to other people’s tables.
For more information on Dr. Limon, visit their website at http://doctorlimon.com/