Dining at 11,500 feet above sea level
Meera and I recently celebrated our second anniversary. We planned a trip for the holidays in December and we chose Peru. We wanted to get our anniversary dinner at Central owned by Chef Virgilio Martínez of Netflix series, Chef table fame. Central is rated as the sixth best restaurant in the world. However, given the time and it being last week of December it was impossible to get a reservation there. However we also learnt about his new venture MIL restaurant which opened in February 2018 and we were able to score a reservation for lunch there (they only serve lunch). I learned about this from colleagues at work and CNN Traveller
As you can see in the cover photo, the restaurant is located on the right over-looking the famous Moray ruins near Cusco. The restaurant is about hour and a half drive from Cusco and the journey is worth every minute. For the last half hour of the drive, there are no paved roads and its just wilderness. At 11,500ft above sea level the restaurant amongst the Andean mountains, this restaurant is one of the ultimate destination restaurants you can think of.
There are roughly 7-8 tables at the restaurant and the experience is very private and intimate. The staff go out of their way to make sure you have the best experience. Once we arrived, we were greeted by our host who walked was us in and began with a short history about the restaurant and its vision and the kind of food they serve. We first started with the research lab at the restaurant where different ingredients ranging from different kinds of herbs, corn, potatoes, algae, cacao etc are studied for their nutritional properties and how it can be used in the food they serve.
Introduction to the research lab
At this point we were also served with some fresh Andean mint tea which helps with the altitude and makes you more comfortable and you can enjoy the experience at MIL better. We now moved on to Cacao. We learned about how Cacao is grown, regions of Peru where its grown and how chocolate is made. We also got to meet with the head chocolatier and tasted some amazing dark chocolates all the way up-to 100%
After chocolate tasting, we now moved to coffee, my favorite topic. We got the opportunity to see the coffee beans right from the cherry to a roasted bean. I was super excited and nerding out already. The icing on the cake here was I got to hang out with the founder Neto of three monkeys coffee from Cusco. Neto spoke only Spanish, but that didn’t stop us from talking to each other. We discussed different coffee origins, favorite varietals, brew methods, coffee to water ratio, grinders and what not. You can see the excitement in the picture below :)
We were already overwhelmed at this point and couldn’t wait for the food experience which was waiting for us. Meera is a vegetarian and I had let the restaurant know while I made the reservation. They had cooked a special vegetarian menu for her. The overall theme of the menu was food available from different eco-systems Peru (see the eco-systems in the menu card below). We got the drink pairing with our lunch and it was a 9 course meal with 9 different drink pairings to go with it. Neto also came by our table and made a special V60 pour over from his limited edition harvest of beans from the jungles of Cusco (delicious). At the end of our lunch, the folks at MIL surprised us with a special cocktail to celebrate our anniversary.
Food & Drinks
The entire experience lasted for over 4 hours and we didn’t realize how time passed by. We arrived at 1 P.M. in the afternoon and by the time we were done it was 5 P.M. This was one of those experiences which Meera and I will cherish forever and always remember in our hearts. Thank you MIL and the entire team for going above and beyond to make this experience memorable for us.
** Except for the cover photo (credit: Gustavo Vivanco), all the other pictures in this post are from my camera.