Chef Roberto Castre is an artist & Latin Bites Café is his masterpiece! The Peruvian inspired menu will entice your appetite, leaving you scratching at the door for more. Chef Castre creates each entrée with remarkable ease, showcasing an array of eclectic dishes with stunning presentation.
Latin Bites’ website enlightens basic humans on the fusion of Latin flavors… “His passion for food has allowed him to develop a variety of cooking techniques, from traditional to the latest trends in modern cuisine such as molecular gastronomy. His knowledge of Latin American, Japanese, Chinese, French, Italian and New American Cuisines has been reflected in his style, which pays close attention to the balance between delicate flavor and sophisticated appearance.”
Chef Castre’s training was in Peru at Escuela de Alta Cocina from Los Andes culinary school. After moving from Lima, he worked with such superstar chefs as Paul Prudhomme & Stephen Pyles, before calling Texas home.
Hidden in a neighborhood one could easily call… the hood, the patio view is of I-10, while next door sits a quaint little tattoo parlor. Art galleries down the street, as well as lofts for the hip & oh so talented, are reminiscent of our beloved… Montrose.
After several visits, it appears Latin Bites, which is a BYOB restaurant, has many regulars keeping them busy. Chef Castre made a point of speaking to many different people throughout the day, shaking hands & even giving hugs. Heart.
With ten or eleven tables at the most, seating in the restaurant is limited, with the open kitchen located behind Chef Castre’s throne… The Ceviche slash Cebiche Bar.
There is no better way to spend the very first day of 2011 than sitting across from a Peruvian ceviche bar, gazing at a chef who possesses the highest standard of Latin dreaminess. With his head wrapped in a black chef scarf, yes… I said chef scarf… he wore a sparkling white chef coat that needs no introduction. One could almost squeak out a tear at the very thought of his chefness. Curtsy.
After looking over the menu, the Shrimp Cebiche is it! This shrimp cocktail is freshly marinated in aji amarillo pepper, leche de tigre & red onions. Served with Peruvian corn kernels & sweet potatoes, this is one of the many cebiche items offered on the menu. Perfect. Everything about this is exhilarating. The happiness is almost unbearable.
Cebiche Mixto is on my wish list… This extremely popular dish has seasonal fish, shrimp, squid & octopus. These ingredients are freshly marinated in your choice of traditional limo pepper, aji amarillo pepper or rocoto pepper leche de tigre with cilantro & red onions.
During each dining event… a small basket is placed on the table with two tiny, yet plump, round rolls of bread heaven. After investigating, this bread would be similar to a semi uncooked biscuit, with a minute amount of cheese in the middle.
Three sliced potatoes are served cold with a surprisingly colorful trio of creamy sauces on the Papas a La Crema appetizer. Made with rocoto pepper, aji amarillo pepper & cilantro, the sauces offer a variety of different flavors. Placed to the side, you will find a sliced hardboiled egg & herbs.
Although fried, I decided to go with my server’s recommendation and order the Jalea de Pescado & Mariscos. Deep fried fish, shrimp, squid & octopus are served with yuka sticks & salsa criolla. Rocoto tartara mayonaise is served on the side.
Maria, the hall of fame server taking care of me, explained the food is deep fried in three different kinds of flour, with the end result being total deep frying fabulousness.
Maria almost insisted I order the Pescado a lo Macho, which is pan-seared white seasonal fish in a creamy panca pepper & pisco sauce with shrimp, squid, clams, mussels, and octopus. Each ingredient of this decadent entrée arrived beautifully placed on a dish with a side of white rice & roasted potatoes.
Trying to recall a time the presentation of everything leaving the kitchen was so incredibly perfect… is impossible. This man is like Picasso! Really.
The Chicha Morada Cheesecake derives from the Peruvian drink which bears the same name, and is made from purple corn. Other ingredients include apple, clove, vanilla, sugar & pineapple.
Grapes are soaked in red wine to prepare the grape sauce, which then accompanies a tasty raspberry sauce as well. Topped off with Italian meringue, this dessert is exceptionally impressive!
Hearing Latin Bites Café made it into the New York Times may have been surprising at first, but after experiencing this superior restaurant first hand, the list of accolades should be endless.
Latin Bites may be small in size, but there is no question the talent in this building is huge. Chef Roberto Castre is indeed a top chef, offering an experience that challenges others to surpass.
FIVE: High 5!
FOUR: Please & Thank You
TWO: Double Wow
ONE: Wow + Ouch = Wouch