Williamsburg is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in one of the most expensive boroughs in one of the most expensive cities in the world, so perhaps it makes sense that there is now a restaurant serving Peruvian roast chicken with fried potatoes for $42 there, but also? It is still kind of, totally insane.
Llama Inn is one of the newest and buzziest additions to north Brooklyn’s dining scene, and is a contemporary Peruvian restaurant run by former Eleven Madison Park sous-chef Erik Ramirez. But while EMP is one of New York’s most exalted (and expensive) fine-dining restaurants, Ramirez recently told Grub Street that he wanted Llama Inn to be both a contemporary reflection of Peruvian cuisine as well as “a casual restaurant” with a strong focus on drinks. And so, Llama Inn offers a wide variety of Peruvian pisco, as well as an inventive cocktail menu, while also offering updated Peruvian standards like fluke ceviche and beef heart anticucho (meat skewers), as well as roast chicken with fried potatoes—for $42.
This. Feels. Crazy. This feels crazy in the way that an $18 dollar plate of bread feels crazy, no matter how long the recipe took to “develop.” This feels crazy because Llama Inn is a self-described “casual restaurant” and there is nothing “casual” about dropping—with tax and tip—over $50 on roast chicken and some fried potatoes. This feels crazy because it is possible to get an extremely delicious whole roast chicken with two sides and salad for $23 at other places in the city, and while, yeah, I get it that different restaurants charge different things and there are different experiences on offer and I really don’t have anything against Llama Inn, which I would like to visit and eat at though I probably wouldn’t order the roast chicken, but would certainly go for the duck sausage which looks amazing, but still, $42 for roast chicken? This feels crazy.
Mostly, though, this feels crazy because it almost doesn’t feel crazy, like, I actually had to think about my initial reaction to the fact that there’s a $42 roast chicken on the menu of a casual restaurant for a moment, and think it through. After all, it’s a whole roast chicken. Two people can eat that. So really, it’s just $21 per person, which isn’t that crazy for a meal out, right? I mean, right? I guess? Except that it’s still a roast chicken and some fried potatoes. For $42. This feels crazy because it is crazy. But then also, everything’s crazy. This is a borough where a neighborhood in which 2-bedroom apartments rent for $4500/month on average is described as having a “small town-U.S.A. feel.” So maybe paying for and eating a $42 roast chicken is the sane thing to do in a mad, mad, mad world. And, hey: At least it’s not turkey, because fuck turkey.