Taking someone who has just arrived back from Peru to a South American restaurant is a double-edged sword. They’re full of helpful advice, but they’re also a little, well, full of it. Luckily one of La Puerta’s owners’ Colombian wife, Catherin Rodriguez, was there to step in: “We’ve taken our favourite dishes from the whole of South America and adapted them to the Australian palate.” Before you can say ‘this one time in Cusco’, we were showered with share plates, including Platanitos ($9) – elaborate plantain chips which come with a delicious avocado dip – and Cassava Flat Cheese Bead ($8), which is worth it for the smoked butter alone. Throw in some cocktail twists like the Basil Passionfruit Caipirinha ($14) and the salty Chimichurri Margarita ($18) and you have yourself a party. The Wild Ceviche ($25) is “better than anything you’ll find in Peru” (say both) and the Crispy Pork Belly ($24) topped with chorizo crumbs is a Colombian specialty you’ll want to get acquainted with. If you have room, don’t neglect the tasty homemade Corn Cakes with Cuban Beef ($5/each). I could eat them all day, or for something excruciatingly sweet, the chef’s take on Pavlova, the Merengon ($12), sums up this Aussie-Latino union perfectly.
Shop 5/2A Waters Road, Neutral Bay
Ph: (02) 9953 8367 lapuertarestaurant.com.au
South American $$