When I moved to Lima I quickly joined a group on Facebook created for expats living here with the purpose of connecting and having a safe space for knowledge sharing. Aside from meeting new friends one thing that being part of this group brought to my life was endless recommendations: Where to get the best mani/pedi, what taxi application is the safest, and of course….food recommendations. All I have to do is click the search bar, type in “pizza” and there will be content for me to scroll through for days. But today I won’t be talking about pizza. If we’re friends you know that I’m not picky when it comes to food. It takes a lot for me to be underwhelmed by a plate of anything and I cannot name one food (okay, yes, broccoli raab, you’re gross) that I won’t eat. I love pretty much everything and Lima as a food hub has great variety - a statement that I know many of my fellow expat community members will scoff at but it’s my opinion and I stand by it! There are, however, some things missing in this gastronomic universe that is Peru. Today I will talk about my hunt for a good bagel.
Maybe it’s the shortage of Jewish culture, maybe Peruvians prefer their carbs in potato and rice form - who knows. But since moving here one of the things I have truly missed is that magical moment my teeth cut into an everything bagel slathered in cream cheese. Before moving here I would eat a bagel, usually, once a week. I looked forward to bagel Fridays at work and would often grab one bagel, open it up, gaze upon the array of cream cheeses that were available, and spread two types of cream cheese on each piece. FOUR cream cheeses total. A monstrous idea, I know, but it truly was the highlight of my Friday mornings at the office.
You can imagine the disappointment my stomach faced when moving to a new country where the cream cheese in a supermarket costs $8.00 and it’s practically impossible to find a bagel worth buying that pricey cream cheese for. The only place here I thought might have bagels was Dunkin Donuts but nope - the Dunkin here limits itself to coffee and donuts. I searched the expat group and read about this mystery man who made bagels at home and delivered them to several coffee shops around Miraflores. I tried his bagel at a few places and they were fine but the coffee shops never added enough cream cheese which to me, clearly, is an important part of the whole thing. Fast forward to a few months ago when a fellow expat posted about a new restaurant that he claimed had the best bagel in the city. This expat is American and as soon as I saw the post my eyes bulged open and my mouth watered when I saw the photo. The bread looked good, the cream cheese was falling off the sides, and it was topped off with lox. I vowed to go to check it out and although it took longer than it should have I was finally able to explore it and judge the bagel on my own this past weekend.
Franklin Kitchen and Bar opened in May of 2018 in San Isidro, Lima, Peru. It touts itself as being a New York inspired comfort food restaurant but that’s all I knew walking in. It was a hot but breezy Saturday afternoon when my roommates and I decided to have lunch there. We walked in and decided to sit in the outside patio. After browsing through the menu for a few minutes we were approached by a friendly man who asked if we had any questions. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting me to say Actually…yes…are you the owner? He confirmed that he was and I asked if he could tell me a bit about the restaurant. He ended up sitting down with us and introducing himself. His name is Arnie and he’s a Peruvian, French, American Interior Designer who came back to Lima two and a half years ago to open Franklin. Franklin is located smack dab between the Roosevelt Hotel and Parque Roosevelt. I wanted to name this place Eleanor at first. I love Eleanor Roosevelt. She was so open-minded, kind, intellectual. Did you know she spoke about human rights at the UN? She was such an amazing lady. But I knew if I named the place Eleanor that Peruvians wouldn’t get it. They wouldn’t even be sure how to pronounce it. So I decided to name it Franklin.
As Louie Armstrong played on the speaker in the background our conversation unfolded into one of the most interesting ones I’ve had in a while. Arnie, short for Arnold, is charismatic and downright hilarious. A no filter kind of guy who, to our surprise, actually understood and spoke fluent sarcasm (a trait that’s rare here in Peru). Arnie told us about their most popular drink: the Franklin, which is comprised of Bourbon, infused with bacon, Amaro Lucano, Sal de Maras, Bitter Burlesque, and smoked chips. The girls and I opted for the Lady Michelle (named after the one and only Goddess Michelle Obama) made of gin, aperol, campari, pineapple, lime and honey as well as the Eleanor (named after Arnie’s favorite first lady, clearly) which was made with vodka, aperol, berries and tonic water. The drinks were spectacular from the taste down to the beauty of their presentation:
We told Arnie how we ended up at Franklin, how we longed for a good ole’ New York style everything bagel. Well, wait a second, I’ll tell you that this bagel is not anywhere near what you’ll find in New York. But it’s the closest to it in Lima. We ordered the Lox ‘n Bagel, the NY Deli Pastrami sandwich, and an Onion Soup. As we waited for our food we continued to listen to Arnie’s story. He sat laid back in his chair wearing a blue and white checkered button up shirt with a navy blue cap and glasses he had sunnies clipped onto. I could tell he spends a lot of his time schmoozing with his guests - something I haven’t seen much here in Lima and deeply appreciate. Arnie had never owned a restaurant until Franklin. He’s spent his life living in Paris and Miami as an Interior Designer after having moved out of Lima when he was 29 years old.
I had this idea of a 1940’s themed restaurant that could offer high quality comfort food. His partner focused more on the food aspect while Arnie took care of the overall design, naturally. The marble tables, military green seats, and the eclectic style of the indoor area are a great testament to his vision. The menu was created by Coque Ossio, a chef recognized internationally as one of the most important in Peru who has worked in Michelin restaurants all over the world. Near the bar, where the Roosevelt Hotel lobby used to live, is a more cozy library-esque area complete with a long couch where you can eat or just hang out with a drink. On the shelves it’s hard to miss, among the collection of old books, framed photos of Roosevelt - in the White House, at a restaurant, and of course with his Scottish Terrier named Fala.
On to the most important part- the food. Our meals came and my heart started beating a bit faster due to equal parts excitement and hunger. My long awaited bagel had arrived! At first glance I felt optimistic. The bagel was as photogenic as Rose laid out on the Titanic posing nude. The bagel was my French girl. Just as the photos I had been stalking on Instagram previewed the bagel was oozing cream cheese. The cream cheese was as thick at the bread itself. My eyes approved within seconds. When it was time for me to introduce the bagel to my mouth I got a closer look at the salmon (lox). After the first bite I was impressed by the freshness of the salmon and the perfection of the cherry tomatoes and onion that accompanied it. Arnie was right - this was no New York bagel but it did the job. On to the pastrami sandwich. The in-house made pastrami was served with rye bread, swiss cheese, pickles, and sauerkraut. The onion soup was a traditional french recipe made with caramelized onions, a cracker and gruyere cheese. Full transparency - this was my first onion soup so I don’t have much to say about it - I’d give it a 6/10 on my internal soup scale.
Per Arnie, their best sellers are the New Deal Burger (which we did not order but will be back for) and their star dessert: the Chocolate Magic Ball. I asked Arnie to explain the ball and he said It’s instagram famous! The magic ball is a brownie topped with Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream and caramel living inside a magic chocolate ball. It’s hard to get Häagen-Dazs here, he explained. They brought one out once we were done with lunch and I had no idea what was coming. I was picturing a Chilis molten-lava cake aaaaand I was wrong. The waiter brought out a literal chocolate ball topped with powdered sugar and a plate lined with mixed berries. He placed the plate on our table and presented a mini jug filled with what I quickly realized was hot melted chocolate. He poured the hot chocolate onto the ball and we watched as it collapsed, beautifully, in awe. What was left was the aforementioned brownie and a puddle of chocolate with random berries floating around. It. Was. Awesome. Scroll through the photos below for the dreamiest desert imaginable:
Even the bathroom was impressive - complete with Roosevelt quotes and Roosevelt themed images and prints on the walls. The detail of the to go box was a a pleasant surprise with a sticker of Roosevelt and Fala holding the paperbag together.
If you’re willing to spend more of your soles for great quality, a speak-easy feel and a high level of customer service I recommend Franklin. The overall vibe of the restaurant is chic and classy but it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Aside from the dishes and cocktails we tried that afternoon they offer a large variety of comfort food like Mac n Cheese, Pierogies, Corn Pudding, Pizza - you name it. And I’ll share a little secret Arnie divulged: Franklin is working on their own wine, a Malbec blend, that they plan on launching in March of this year. Bonus: The restaurant is dog friendly inside and outside - something I know late Roosevelt would have highly appreciated!
Onion Soup Gratinée - s/ 29
Lox 'n Bagel - s/36
NY Deli Pastrami - s/36
Lady Michelle - s/37
Eleanor - s/39
Chocolate Magic Ball - s/34
Address: Av. Alvarez Calderón 198, San Isidro