Dishes of the Year: Ceviche Mixto at Mama Irma Restaurant
Waiting a quarter-hour for the mix of shrimp, tilapia, Peruvian-grown corn, and potatoes feels relaxed when you know it’s being made with the love of a matriarch.
The papa rellena at Mama Irma Restaurant (1058 Virginia Ave., 317-423-2421), a puffy zeppelin of mashed potatos stuffed with onions and meat. A cooling sour relish of slivered red onions shares the plate. The flamboyant lobster tempura roll at Tomo Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi
The spicing is subtle in some dishes, striking in others, but always precise. Sometimes the combination of ingredients challenges our middle-American notions. When was the last time you had chilled, spiced mashed potatoes molded around chicken salad? But dishes assembled with such care and presented so lovingly can grow on you and become familiar. As Indy’s ethnic food scene expands and (hopefully) fills in all of our international cracks, Mama Irma gives us a place to call home.
On a recent chilly night, a ruddy-cheeked mix of date-nighting hipsters, ethnic foodies, and Spanish-speaking expats filled the 10 tables inside Mama Irma Restaurant. Twinkle lights in the windows gave the storefront a Thomas Kinkade glow. And yet, even as the owner greeted diners with a motherly “Hi guys!” as if they had just come in from band practice, this snug Peruvian eatery in Fountain Square seemed blissfully unaware of its own preciousness.
The corn “creme brulee” at Divvy (71 W. City Center Dr., Carmel, 317-706-0000), sweet but not overpowering, with firm kernels, a great creamy sauce, and the signature burnt topping. The artfully plated gorgonzola-stuffed chicken with scalloped potatoes and asparagus at
Fountain Square’s new Mama Irma Restaurant (1058 Virginia Ave., 317-423-2421) is a tribute to the diverse cuisine of Peru. Dish titles are in Peruvian Spanish, but the plates have Spanish, Japanese, African, and Italian influences. Diners can get a taste of that diversity in dishes ranging from citrus-soaked ceviche (the Peruvian national dish) to the native favorite lomo saltado, a warm toss of steak, veggies, and French fries. (And everything tastes better with a dollop or dip of the smooth Peruvian yellow sauce that swaddles the papas a la huancaina and a number of other plates.) The sheer expanse of flavors that Peruvian cooking incorporates is obvious from the seafood feasts, sticky tallarin noodles, fried rice, and battered Yucca root that emerge steaming from the kitchen.