The bold, biting flavors of Latin America are at home on Bay View's vibrant South Kinnickinnic Avenue.
The mild little filets in the Peruvian ceviche we’ve ordered are “cooked” in citrus marinade and laid on cold slices of cooked sweet potato, a traditional ingredient. In Peru, the marinade of lime, yellow chili and ginger is called leche de tigre (“tiger’s milk”). Natives drink the residual marinade, though diners at Bay View’s C-viche are not exhibiting such boldness.
A venture named for ceviche – whose preparations vary in coastal Latin America – should excel at making that creation. C-viche offers at least five bright, flavorful versions of the seafood specialty, but cured seafood is not the only thing this boisterous, urbane venue does well. Owners Jose “Paco” Villar and Karlos Soriano pooled over two decades of service industry experience to build this homage to Ibero-America. They performed much of the remodeling of this former hair salon themselves, including a wall made of bleached, mismatched wood. Warm lighting softens the sharp surfaces, and Latin music adds to the animated mood that begins at the 16-seat bar.
The Peruvian-born Soriano’s background includes managing the bar at Cubanitas, known for its well-muddled mojito. C-viche’s version is sweet and minty, but the cocktail leading the pack here is the pisco sour, a potent, tart drink with a foamy egg white topping. It’s a worthy partner for any of the ceviches, maybe best of all the classic Peruvian rendition, which pairs herring-like whitefish with sweet potatoes, red onion and choclo (Andean corn). Stylistically similar is the ceviche mixto, which builds on the marinated fish with seafood. The Mexican shrimp ceviche is served on tostadas, the lime juice-preserved shrimp tossed with tomatoes, onions, cucumber, cilantro and assertive serrano pepper.
As well-rounded as the ceviches are, the main courses are substantial – important if you’re drinking pisco sours or mescal mules. Of the entrees, best are lomo saltado, a beef stir-fry with potatoes and lots of garlic and cilantro; grilled salmon with black botija olives, boiled egg, sweet onions and the spicy, creamy chimichurri; and Peruvian tallarin verde. This fusion dish, which translates to “green noodles,” features a creamy spinach-basil pesto. It’s eaten with chicken or beef, and here it goes smashingly with the grilled sirloin.
This bold cuisine is anything but bland, with the ceviches offering the fresh appeal of an exotic getaway. ◆
C-Viche: 2165 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 414-800-7329. Hours: Lunch/Dinner Tues-Sun. Brunch Sat-Sun. Prices: Ceviches $8-$16 \entrées $11-$28.