IBJOpinion

DINING: Mama Irma earns high praise

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Dining - A&E

“You can’t make Peruvian food out of Mexican ingredients.”

That’s what I heard the owner of Mama Irma Restaurant (1058 Virginia Ave., 423-2421) declare while I was falling in love with a plate of Tallarin con Huancaina at her new Fountain Square eatery. And while I’m no expert on South American cuisine—there are too few opportunities in Indy to sample it done right—I could taste exactly what she meant.

I’ll get to my favorite dish in a minute. Let’s start with the Causa Rellena ($6) and the Papa Rellena ($5.50) appetizers. Each had the size and shape of a baked potato, the consistency of mashed potatoes, and the ability to incite greed among sharing lunch partners. The Causa Rellena was filled but not overstuffed with veggies, chicken and/or tuna salad. The latter had a finely ground beef peccadillo at its core.
 

Dining Chupe de Camarones–a seafood bisque with big pieces of fish–is just one of many highlights of a Mama Irma meal. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

The kitchen happily split—without an upcharge—a massive bowl of Chupe de Camarones ($12.50), a lovingly made pool of shrimp, Peruvian corn (sliced from but still surrounding a wedge of cob) and fall-off-the-fork fish. The menu boldly states, “You will love this soup.” It was right.

I’ll admit that my first look at the aforementioned Tallarin con Huancaina ($10.50) prepared me for what I thought would be the meal’s first disappointment. What looked like a tenderloin-sized slab of thin steak awkwardly topping a plate of spaghetti turned out to be a highlight among highlights—tender, flavorful meat mixed with perfectly cooked pasta and a light but influential Huancaina sauce. In an American culture that tends to over-cheese just about everything, this was a refreshing reminder of what can be pulled off with restraint, care and fresh ingredients.

When a meal is this fulfilling, house-made dessert is a must even when there seems to be no room. Somehow, though, we found space for Crema Volteada ($3.75), a slice of upside-down custard heaven, and Postre Mama Irma ($4.25), an equally fine upside-down chocolate cake with custard and caramel that offered little resistance to the forks slicing through it. The message of this delicious duo: While Mama Irma doesn’t market itself as a dessert spot, it’s worth a stop even if you’ve had your main meal somewhere else.•

—Lou Harry

__________

Second in a month-long series of reviews of new ethnic eateries.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Hold the Queso, por favor
    Overcheesing is a Midwestern, not an American thing. I've been to a great many Latin American and traditional Mexican restaurants in Texas and throughout the Southwest that don't overcheese. That said, I'm going to pay Mama Irma a visit. It sounds like a wonderful alternative to the (mostly) awful cuisine preferred by the average salt-and-sugar, chain-loving Hoosier.
  • Hmm
    I wish I could share in the rave reviews about this place! I read glowing report after glowing report, and was so disappointed when I actually did go. The food was bland, the meat overcooked, and the service, while friendly, was terribly slow. I ordered the same thing as the reviewer - the Tallarin con Huancaina - and unfortunately had a less delightful experience. The meat was like rubber and the sauce was terrible. Perhaps it's just a personal thing and Peruvian isn't my cup of tea, but I was very disappointed after all the reviews I read...

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

ADVERTISEMENT