Piqueos is a newcomer in the Melbourne dining scene, offering the alternative of South American cuisine. To my knowledge, there aren't many restaurants in Melbourne that specialise solely in Argentinian or Peruvian food, so it's a welcome addition. It just so happens that my next big adventure is headed towards the South American continent and the stories I have heard from my sister excite the fatty-boombah inside me (she ate Kobe beef three days straight in Argentina). Located on Rathdowne street, it adds an exciting experience in a warm, lovely setting. Our waiter explained that Piqueos means tidbit of food in Spanish so it was appropriate considering the menu format consisting of tidbits, larger share dishes and various meats and fish cooked on their Parilla (charcoal grill) - all perfect for sharing.
Bestie & Mr 1-upper locked us in for dinner at Piqueos which seemed like an ideal spot to celebrate for Mr A's birthday as we loved our experiences of South American food.
Bestie was curious about their Pisco Sours so we ordered a round to try. Turns out they are similar to margaritas with an egg white foam - with a distinct tequila taste, a couple struggled with it due to their bad experiences with tequila and I felt myself getting a touch light-headed after downing it, yes weak sauce!
Some condiments were brought out for our dishes: the chimmichurri was advised with anything except fish and the classic salt and pepper to season as we pleased.
The fresh hapuka used for this starter was slightly cooked by the lime and with the aji amarillo sauce (a Peruvian chile pepper), it was fantastically piquant. Tiradito is considered to be a lighter version of the cebiche (also spelt ceviche).
The cubes of blue eye trevalla were cooked longer with the lime so it was much more tender than the tiradito. The cebiche was flavoursome with quite a kick of spice to it, and it was undeniably fresh with the addition of corn.
The quinoa salad was fresh and tasty with the bitter radicchio being countered by bursts of sweetness from the pomegranate seeds.
The morcilla was earthy and seasoned perfectly, and was further enhanced with a squeeze of lime. Some people may find the idea of a blood sausage off-putting but our minds were too focused on the deliciousness to think about it.
Our waiter recommended the grilled beef heart as a stand out dish and seeing as no one was opposed to trying it, we were rewarded with tender yet bouncy meat with a strong beef taste. I was worried that the texture would be too chewy or strange tasting considering it is a muscle, however it's something I wouldn't hesitate to re-order in the future after this fine dish.
The grilled octopus was tender and I loved it with the tart grapefruit slivers. The flavours in this dish were very clean and appetising; I only wish there was more rather than two tiny bites of octopus per person.
Blackened carrots are a must order for me - I love the combination of the charred, sweet baby carrots with the tangy goats curd. A pity we only had one to two carrots per person, so I felt the serving was much too small.
The beef short ribs had a layer of fat intermingled with the tender meat which was really enjoyable. We loved this with the herb-y chimmichurri.
The chimmichurri marinated sirloin was pink and had a tender bite to it. The flavour of the sirloin was flavoursome and delicious with even more chimmichurri sauce.
We had arrived to Piqueos late due to work so we unfortunately had to give dessert a miss as the next group was due to arrive for our table. Instead, we hotfooted it to Helados Jauja, just five minutes away, for some ice cream. I really liked the salted caramel flavour but I thought the dulce de leche flavour was overwhelmed by the dark chocolate chips. Enjoyable but on the pricey side - 2 x double flavoured cones coming to just under $20.
We were all thoroughly pleased with every dish we received and couldn't fault a thing, save for perhaps larger portions for some dishes. The service was informative and our waiter talked us through the menu and helped us with choosing the appropriate ratio of dishes. We weren't entirely full as we had limited time but we were definitely satisfied. If you're keen to give South American cuisine a try, Piqueos is probably the best place to start.
Will I return? Yes, loved all the food.
298 Rathdowne Street
Carlton North VIC 3054
(03) 9349 2777
Tues to Thurs 5:30pm - 10pm
Fri to Sat noon - 11pm
Sun noon - 10pm