19 ACDC Lane, Melbourne
Feeling like we'd just stumbled on a well-kept secret with the restaurant tucked at the back of an alleyway where Instagrammers were doing their own photoshoots with the street art.
We chose here because… it came highly recommended by the team at Visit Victoria and if anyone's bound to know a hotspot, it's the people whose jobs it is to have their ear to the ground. That and I'd spent a good portion of our trip so far dreaming out loud about seafood, so a cevicheria seemed the obvious choice.
Our first impression was… Yasssss! Pastuso claims that perfect middle-ground between a bit fancy and low-key hip, with huge windows facing Melbourne's world-famous ACDC laneway so the street art outside looks like a fourth wall. There's one kitchen for ceviche and one for everything else, plus a separate bar. There's also plenty of seating, colourful but not over-the-top decor and a really cool, vibrant atmosphere.
We started with…
Sangria. Because Sangria is key. I also treated myself to some beautiful Sydney rock oysters and then the Tiradito de Jurel ceviche came out, with Gippsland Amberjack, coriander and ginger buttermilk, and salted cucumber. Everything was so fresh, light and flavourful.
The highlight was… The ceviche, of course. It is, after all, what Pastuso is known for. But also a pleasant surprise was the Pastel de Choclo, a strange kind of corn cake with garlic, feta, leek and a tarragon vinaigrette which was pretty much like having dessert in the middle of dinner. Also a special mention to the Inca Cola, which looks like Mountain Dew and tastes like Creaming Soda. Weird, but delicious.
Dessert was… Too much. We totally overdid the meal and had no room left, but we were tempted as the dessert menu was packed full of traditional options like Tres Leches, a Peruvian lemon pie, and sweet potato and pumpkin donuts.
Come here if…
You want a taste of Latin America while enjoying the laneways of Melbourne - or, if you want to try alpaca, which is actually on the menu but which my dinner-mates were not as keen to try as I was!
The bill… Wasn't cheap but I've paid more for less. It came to about $200 for three of us - including a couple of rounds of drinks.