Twenty years ago, chef Adam Warren fell hard for his now wife, Angeline Perla, after she’d made made beef heart skewers for a yard party from a recipe she’d picked up in her native city of Lima, Peru.
This week, they’re putting their spin on that city’s cuisine with the opening of La Leña, their 46-seat couter-service restaurant anchored by a 1,500-pound brick rotisserie oven which will be used to spit-roast whole free-range Scratch Farms birds.
Warren, who’s worked at the old Veritable Quandary, the still-missed Rocket and Navarre (where he was chef for the last eight years) says most of the recipes he’s using come from Perla’s family, especially his father-in-law, who spent a year with them looking after their then-newborn daughter. And he’s relying on Perla to be the chief taster to make sure those dishes live up to her childhood memories.
Those items include lomo saltado (stir-fried beef with tomatoes, onions, aji amarillo, and fries served with garlic rice), papa a la huancaina, boiled yellow potatoes topped with a savory cheese sauce, Botija olives, and hardboiled egg), ceviche (fresh local fish marinated in lime juice with onions, sweet potato, aji limo, and cancha), and, of course, those birds, the drippings of which are used to roast the restaurant’s onions and as an additive to the stiock used for a yellow beans side dish.
On the drinks side, bartenders will fresh squeeze glasses of fresh limonada, mix up pisco sours, our glasses of local and South American wines, and snap off the caps of local and Peruvian beers.
The space also seats an additional 32 outside. Over the next few weeks, Warren says he’s hoping to roll out online ordering and delivery services. Brunch, he adds, isn’t in the cards just yet, but that could be subject to change sooner than later.
La Lena: 1864 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-946-1157; Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week (however, hours could change to noon to 9 p.m., daily, in the coming weeks)