I was out running errands and wanted to grab a bite to eat. The same old same old just wasn’t doing it for me. I wanted something more…interesting. How to accomplish that without risking bodily harm was beyond me. I was about to give up and go to the new Hardees that opened at Pelham and East North Street. That’s when I saw it. A sign saying that the Golden Llama is now open in the BiLo shopping center at that intersection. I had to check it out. To be honest, I didn’t know if it was a restaurant or a weird gift shop.
This little alcove has always intrigued me. It looks like it would be a good place for interesting shops, but it has never taken off. There have been restaurants in this area where we’ve eaten regularly, but it’s been a long time since anything new has opened here.
The Golden Llama website gives a bit of history about Peruvian cuisine. It also describes the Asian influence on their cuisine. This is reflected in the offerings on the Golden Llama menu.
I asked how long the restaurant had been open, and the guy behind the counter said that they had been open for five months. I hadn’t noticed it in that time. I wonder if they had just put up the signs.
The cafe is very small, tucked back into a corner of the Courtyard Shops. There are several tables and counter where one places orders.
The clientele was mostly young professionals. As you might imagine, I heard a lot of Spanish being spoken.
It’s kind of hard to describe a menu with which I’m so unfamiliar. There are appetizers for $6-$8. The entrees run from $11 – $15, and there are sandwiches from $8 – $9. These feature various marinated beef and chicken selections.
At first it seemed unusual to see items like wontons and noodles in South American cuisine, but these reflect the Asian influences.
At first I was a bit put off by the prices. Some of the entrees looked delicious, but I didn’t really want to sink that much into lunch. Fortunately they had a lunch special for $6.50 that featured Bistec a lo Pobre, but without the fried egg and plantains.
The salad, rice, and fries were adequate, but unremarkable. The real star was the thin slice of steak. It had been marinated in various spices, and was absolutely delicious. It was a bit tough, but it was thin enough that it wasn’t a problem.
I watched other dishes being brought out, and some of them were quite intriguing. The Trilogy Cerviche was especially appealing, with fish fixed three ways. The Peruvian fried corn kernels looked interesting. Of course, this is the most expensive thing on the menu.
Without wait staff, it’s hard to judge service. The food came out quickly. The one comment I have is that the woman behind the counter had a tenuous grasp of English She was OK as long as I pointed to menu items, but if I asked a question, she turned to her partner behind the counter. Other than that, there were no problems.
This was a nice surprise. My lunch was excellent. While a bit pricey compared to other lunch options, the food is good. Certainly, by the number of patrons there, others think so, too. The menu looks quite adventurous, so I’m hoping to come back and try some of these other dishes.