Senzo is a high-end restaurant in the wonderful setting of the Palacio Nazarenas luxury hotel. This is one of the finest hotels in Peru and the buildings and gardens are a beautiful mix of exquisitely restored Incan walls and colonial features in the grounds of a former ‘beatario’. It was once home to the daughters of native aristocracy who didn’t qualify to enter convents and led a cloistered, religious life here.
A visit to Senzo is a sensorial experience from the moment you enter the main door of the hotel. Wandering through the colonial patios and gardens gives you a glimpse into the peaceful lives of these women or ‘beatas’. The restored frescos, artwork and decor of the hotel gives you a feel for Colonial Cusco with a luxurious twist!
The Senzo restaurant is located in one of the hotel’s inner courtyards next to Cusco’s only outdoor swimming pool providing an atmospheric backdrop to any meal. The restaurant decor is simple and comfortable during the day with bare wooden tables decorated with cacti plants. It changes tone once dusk falls with pristine white tablecloths, an elegant bird of paradise flower on each table and soft candlelight.
Senzo strives to showcase local Andean products on their menu. Some ingredients are grown on-site in their own herb garden, while others come from the surrounding Cusco region. Local ingredients including colourful corn varieties, local potatoes and coca leaves are on display so you can see what you are eating in its natural form.
We opted for the five course vegetarian tasting menu and were delighted by the freshness and quality of the ingredients. The leaves in the green salad were fresh and tender and the creamy avocado married perfectly with the tangy passion fruit dressing. The second dish of ‘callampa’ mushroom soup was creamy yet light with a deeply earthy flavour that combined well with the crunchy texture of the vegetables.
The first mouthful of the pumpkin stew brought a burst of flavour to the palate. The texture of the fava beans and potatoes added a nice bite. This was a good deconstruction of this typical Andean dish.
We also tried the normal tasting menu at the same price of US$95. Overall, we preferred the vegetarian tasting menu. But we greatly enjoyed the sautéed corn and fried paria cheese which was fresh and tasty and a refined take on the whole corn cobs and cheese you find in the local markets. The quinoa and lupin bean ceviche had a nice freshness and crunch and was something we hadn’t seen much of in Cusco.
The dessert was stunning. The chocolate texture dessert was a celebration of Peruvian cacao and came bathed in a rich and creamy chocolate sauce that was perfect in its sweetness. Chocolate sticks gave a nice crunch and a chocolate brownie topped with chocolate mousse was pure decadence.
Nearly all of the dishes delighted in their visual presentation with plates decorated with local flowers and colourful garnishes. Unfortunately, the flavour of some dishes the night we visited weren’t always reflected in the beauty of their presentation. The baked spaghetti and the duck were a bit disapointing compared to the quality proposed in the overall experience. Our advice is to opt for the a-la-carte menu and select some of our favourite dishes that we mentioned above for a delightful culinary experience.
The Senzo restaurant is a formal dining experience excelling in ambiance, setting and service. It is probably the most high-end restaurant in Cusco and is a great choice if you are looking for luxury, elegance and a stunning setting.
Best of Peru Travel Recommends:
- Start your evening at the poolside Senzo bar for a romantic cocktail. (We recommend their pisco sour!)
- Senzo restaurant is also nice for lunch. On a sunny day have your meal al fresco by the pool.