OK, I know I've dissed the ladies who lunch in the Pearl, but this is a place you can take your auntie, your mom or your friends for a very nice and very different lunch experience. It's Andina, a much ballyhooed entry in the hot-new-cuisine sweepstakes nationwide, and they feature "nuevo Peruvian" cuisine. That means lots of fresh fish, meats and vegetables, plus plantains, Andean grains and peppers. If you've been there for dinner, you know how good it is, and at lunch the price is a bit less and the selections are almost identical.
I met friends Monique and Sylvia there, and we sampled the menu starting with several small plates including the yucca rellena, cheese stuffed yuca with an aji Amarillo cheese sauce and a causa mixta nikkei or potato cake filled with spicy tuna, crab salad and shrimp. They have several cebiches, the national dish of Peru, usually made with raw fish marinated in lemon or other citrus juices along with salt, chiles, onions and garlic. We had the tuno nikkei, a tuna, aji amarillo, soy, pickled ginger and Japanese cucumber salad-like dish. The tuna was some of the freshest I've had and meltingly tender, in a truly unique preparation that I can't wait to have again.
They have great cocktails and a nice selection of wines, but if you want to have an authentic Peruvian beverage, go for the chicha morada, a non-alcoholic blue corn-based spiced drink that is pleasantly refreshing and different than anything you've ever had.
This place rocks with a difference that's worth experiencing. Too bad it's not on the east side!
Details: Andina Restaurant, 1314 NW Glisan, Portland; Phone 503-228-9535.