Gaston Acurio's new dirty burger joint (sister to the original one in Lima's Miraflores district) is heavy on edgy style and quirky design from the off. Tables have crayons and paper to indulge your artistic side whilst you salivate over the sandwiches, and bright neon signs wink out at diners whilst orange cabling loops frenetically from light fitting to light fitting. In the bathrooms it's all retro burlesque photos (for the blokes) and massive dressing room style mirrors surrounded by (waay too bright) lightbulbs. Fashionable lighting seems to have been top of the list of the celebrity chef's whims when this restaurant concept was developed. But was it all worth it? Well yes and no. Firstly the patties are 100% veal (unless you choose the veggie option of course), which for us didn't pack the punch necessary to stand up to all those crazy toppings. And then there's the toppings themselves: her 'Cusco' was stacked with salad, rocoto (peppers), avocado, a bright green utacuta salsa *and* shoestring fries. My 'Papchito' was slopped with elderberry ketchup and a blue cheese sauce. Needless to say the achingly hip brioche buns didn't stand a chance. That's ok because sometimes a dirty burger should be just that, one glorious big mess on your plate (and possibly all down your top). These burgers are expensive even by Cusco standards, so perhaps Acurio felt he should pull out all the stops to deliver on his promise: 'everything can be hamburgerised'. But maybe trying to add in so many strong and competing flavours to each burger creation was a quirk too many. The sides, including fat battered onion rings, were well cooked and served in decent portions, and the drinks menu of the usual trendy cocktails, beers and shakes complemented the food well. Service was equally flamboyant but inconsistent, the level of attention and precision depending very much on whose eye we caught. Overall then, 6 / 10 for Papacho's: a hipster burger joint with all the bells and whistles, albeit one that leaves you with that familiar try-hard aftertaste.
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