The Place: Dr. Limon is a ceviche bar with fun edible prescriptions in a hip space with white tables and chairs with a namesake lime on each table, brick walling behind the takeout counter and glass jars of pisco steeped with chile peppers as decoration. Small ceramic bull statues are scattered about, and one wall is floor to ceiling windows that face the parking lot of a small strip mall in Kendall. One wall has chalkboards with specials and colorful artwork behind a sushi and ceviche counter. The place fills by 2 p.m. and can get loud in a convivial way. This is ceviche with a twist and has plans to expand.
The History: Executive chef Carlos Brescia is from Chiclayo, a large city in northern Peru known as “the pearl of the north,” with what is considered the best regional food in Peru. He grew up helping in the Italian trattoria his family ran, and while other kids played with Legos he was learning to cook with his Nona. His parents emigrated to Miami in 2001, and he started working at Miyako Japanese restaurant, where he learned knife skills and discipline. He then worked at a Peruvian restaurant downtown before opening Dr. Limon in 2012 with partners Antonio Combina and Fiorella Terrazas, with Alejandro Puga as manager. Bresciao’s nickname is “Doctor,” as after a night of drinking with friends he’d concoct ceviche as a hangover cure.
The Food: Guests are welcomed with a shot glass of tigre de leche (“tiger’s milk”) to open the palate. Ceviches are made with a choice of corvina or mixed seafood. Fiebre alta is “high fever” in rocoto cream; levantate lazaro is “wake up from the dead” with rocoto chile, ginger and shrimp broth; and nurse bloody Mary is a chalaca mixture in tomato juice with celery. Chalaca, named after the port near Lima, features seafood steamed in white wine and marinated in lime juice. The signature ceviche, el loco calato or “crazy naked,” features ceviche breaded and fried in big balls. There’s also tiraditos (sashimi ceviche-style) with purple olive cream, garlic sauce or huancaina cream made with aji amarillo and cheese; ahi tuna papaki (like tataki); the acholado sushi roll with smoked salmon, shrimp tempura and cream cheese; and the causa sampler called “los amigos del doctor.” Mains include aji gallina with shredded chicken in creamy cheese and aji amarillo sauce; parihuela “power soup” with crab and other seafood in fish broth; and Chinese-Peruvian chaufas (fried rice). Rich chocolate cake made with Andean cacao comes with lucuma ice cream made with a fruit paste that tastes like butterscotch and pumpkin.
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You Didn’t Know This: The national spirit of Peru, the white grape brandy, pisco, was first made in the port of Pisco in southern Peru. In the Quechua language pisqu means “bird” because many birds flock to the coast to feed on abundant fish. An earlier aguardiente (firewater) was stored in clay amphoras lined with beeswax called piskos, where the alcohol they held also came to be known as pisco. In the late 16th century the Spanish first made pisco by accident in the attempt to make orujo, a pomace brandy made from the solids left after pressing grapes. Pisco is a pure distillate made from any of eight approved varietals into a high proof spirit that has a bold and rustic taste. The Pisco 100 brand sold at Dr. Limon is an acholado, a multi-varietal grape blend, used in pisco spritzers called chilcanos with ginger ale and mint.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food blogger and writer and creator of Mermaid Sea Salt and Indian Spiced Toffee, available at Cream Parlor, 8224 Biscayne Blvd.
If you go
The place: Dr. Limon Ceviche Bar
Address: 13766 SW 84th Street, Kendall and 10548 SW Eighth Street, Miami, 305-228-9200
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-10p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers $6-$38, entrees $8-$21, desserts $6-$7.50, natural juices $6
F.Y.I. Wine, craft beer and pisco drinks are available.