Piqueos is a cosy little Peruvian/Argentinian restaurant and bar located in leafy North Carlton. The concept and the service are designed to take you on an experiential and gastronomical journey from Peru to Argentina to Colombia.
You’ll be embraced by the warmth and friendliness of the place and it’s down-to-earth staff as soon as you enter the door. It’s a humble, simple little space that seems to open its arms and hug you in. Brick, copper and timber combinations, large front windows and ample natural light give Piqueos its honest character and charm.
The brainchild of two mates, Dave Mills and Shaun Burke, Piqueos was an idea conceived while the duo was living in London. One was working at a London Argentinian Restaurant and the other was managing a London Salsa bar. Before even travelling to South America they were already in love with the place and knew that bringing the Latino flavour – its food and its culture – back to Melbourne was their calling.
While on his dream trip to South America, exploring Argentina and Peru, Shaun was completely captivated by Pisco. Shaun had discovered a spirit that shared the same complexities and depth as his main passion, Argentinian wines.
He returned with a supply of Pisco and stocked Piqueos with Melbourne’s largest selection of Peruvian Piscos, including imported product that isn’t available anywhere else in Australia.
Shaun explained to me that in South America, like in all 3rd world countries, villagers set up small stalls by the side of the road. In Peru, everywhere you go there are roadside stalls selling pineapple pisco sours. So, you can expect a pineapple pisco sour at Piqueos, of course.
Something else Shaun came across on his travels was chica morada, a sweet beverage made from purple corn. By boiling ground purple corn kernels with pineapple, spices and sugar, the Peruvians make a syrup that is then used like cordial to create a non-alcoholic beverage. Using it behind the bar at Piqueos, the team discovered that it was a great ingredient in cocktails, so he uses it to make chicha morada pisco sours.
Chicha Morada Pisco Sour
The chicha morada gives this pisco sour a lovely magenta colour and a sweeter flavour. Whisking it up in a milkshake shaker is a strike of genius, giving it the perfect foam. It’s topped off with authentic South American bitters.
Colombian Lechona Sundays
I know this isn’t a food blog, but on my visit to Piqueos, I met their Head Chef, Juan. A friendly, natural and excitable character, I was fascinated by his story.
A native Colombian and 3rd generation cook, Juan’s skills were developed throughout his early childhood in his grandfather’s and father’s restaurants. Every Sunday, his village would hold a customary Sunday barbeque. He shared his photos and videos of home with me –friends, bull fighting and 100s of kilograms of meat slow cooking for a special festival to celebrate Farmers’ Day.
As a break away from the Argentinian menu, Juan’s puts on a traditional Colombian style barbeque lunch every Sunday from 12pm – 4pm at Piqueos. Called Lechona, it’s a whole pig cooked the Colombian traditional way, filled with spices, rices and pork.
Juan says come down!
298 Rathdowne St, Carlton North
Open Tues – Thurs 5.30pm to 10.00pm; Fri – 12.00pm to 11.00pm; Sat – 5.00pm to 11.00pm; Sun 12.00pm to 10.00pm