If you read the title for this review and swiftly pursued the link, it’s probably because you have had the propitious occasion to have dined at Villa Wellington and know reading this will satisfy a vicarious feast of an experience. As I compose this, I am daydreaming about my next visit to this little treasure tucked away in Verdun.
This was by far one of my favourite epicurean adventures of Forty and Famished. I think I was quadruple blessed because I went with four of my favourite foodie friends, and four out of five us turned the corner of fabulous fourty in ‘14 (pardon my juvenile use of Atwoodian alliteration) and being famished for quality eats is what we do best.
Villa Wellington has been around for twenty five years, but it was the first I heard of it. I was eager to try it because my palette was really hankering for something remarkable and I was blessed to get something extraordinary. I’ve had very few encounters with Latin American cuisine, so I jumped at the opportunity. Our waiter, Diego, though a native of Mexico City, was very well versed in the menu and was able to take us through the Peruvian appetizers and entrees so we could each find something unique and appealing. My first surprise was the Antichucos 3, or beef heart brochettes. I am not finicky or squeamish when it comes to animal protein. I have had beef tongue, chicken hearts and tripe, but what I pictured was very tough organ meat, cubed and tough, speared through a stick. What it is in fact, is very thinly sliced, tender red meat seasoned with aromatic spices. This is normally a main course, but our waiter arranged for 1 palo, or an appetizer portion of 1 brochette (not normally on the menu), which we found very accommodating.
Their menu is also partly Mexican, and one of my friends ordered the tamales for a starter, stuffed with chicken and olives. They have a house salad that is plentiful as much as it is colorful. The choclo con queso is Peruvian corn- and this is maize like you ain’t never seen it before! The kernels are gargantuan- the size of a nickel. It is not sweet like North American corn, but very starchy and comes with goat cheese similar to a Greek feta. I recommend it for the novelty, but will pass on it at my next visit.
The Jalea is a deep-fried seafood dish with an onion and tomato salad. The petit portion is very generous and my friends still had leftovers to bring home! It comes with a very spicy sauce on the side, and try to remember when your server brings it at the beginning of the meal, and tells you “careful, it’s spicy”, it is SPICY. I was way too caught up in the moment of sampling all the delicious dishes that I forgot to heed the warning; my sinuses were grateful for the opportunity of being liberated that night.
If you are up for comfort-food, the secon con frijoles was a beef ragout with coriander and lima beans and rice. We remarked at how unusual it was to have coriander in a stew as most of us were used to enjoying it inin lighter “summer fare” or in Asian cuisine. Another welcome discovery. Portion size: mammoth.
I was most pleased with my order – the Piqueo Wellington. It was sold to me as a sampling of everything, and can be likened to a surf and turf / bento box. Ask the company I shared that night, I squealed for joy like a carnivorous glutton when it was placed before me as I learned it included a brochette of anticucho on a bed of home fried potatoes! You also get a scoop of the traditional potato dish, causa which comes dotted with crab, then you get a nice portion of tangy ceviche and I believe they used scallops in their version, followed by grilled pulpo, octopus, and a generous mound of fried calamari, so you’re getting a bit of the Jalea too. Order this one! You won’t be disappointed. At $19, you are getting variety and food value.
We shared a pitcher of Sangria, but they also serve traditional Peruvian and Mexica drinks like Pisco Sour and Inca Cola. And they kindly split the sangria 1/5 for ease of billing. Diego brought us some alfajor, the traditional coconut shortbread cookie filled with dulce de leche to finalize our tour of Peruvian gastronomy. My whole meal was under $40 including tax and tip.
I know, you’re scrolling to the bottom to get the phone number, right? Reservations are recommended. They are a small, cozy outfit with about 20 tables.
Villa Wellington-Restaurant Peruvien is open 7 days a week 4701 Rue Wellington Verdun, QC H4G 1X2, tel: 514-768-0102