A profusion of Peruvian food in Sonoma County has made once-exotic foods like lomo saltado, Pisco sours and giant kernels of Choclo (Peruvian corn) a more familiar sight. Ayawaska in Petaluma is the newest entrant into the game.
The location is lovely, with indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the Petaluma River. The former Brick Yard space in Theater Square has hosted several failed restaurant concepts, and in many ways seems a bit cavernous in comparison to other nearby bistros.
A large menu hits all the high points, including several types of fish ceviche, yuccas, quinoa, beef dishes and preparations that showcase the region’s melting pot of cuisines from China and Japan to Spain, France and indigenous peoples. Sweet, salty, savory and spicy flavors intermingle in each dish thanks to corn, raisins, yellow peppers and piquant spices.
While some dishes are truly memorable, like a savory corn cake with mushrooms and white wine or decadent cheesecake, others fall a bit flat, either lacking seasoning or hitting the salt a bit hard. Ceviches are good, but lack the sharp tang of citrus that usually makes the mix of raw fish, corn, sweet potato, red onion and that usually make this marinade so memorable.
Pisco-spiked cocktails made with the much-loved brandy of Peru, are another matter entirely. Topped with egg whites, mixed with lime and served up icy cold are delightful, and the bar at Ayawaska is frequently crowded in the evening.
They’ve also got a number of island tonics made with rum, mezcal and gin if Pisco isn’t your thing. 101 2nd St., #190, Petaluma, ayawaskasf.com.