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Villa Wellington
4701 Wellington, Verdun Métro De l'Église

Tel. 768-0102. Tuesday to Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.$25 for two before taxes and tip. Table d'hôte: $10 to $16 (noon and evening).
I have been meaning to try this restaurant for years. In fact I have probably driven by it a half dozen times without ever stopping. This is a nondescript box of a place, as generic as pizza, club sandwiches and spaghetti. The window is filled with vines and hanging plants. Looks just any of a hundred similar places in the south-central part of the city.

Inside everything changes. The walls are filled with Peruvian hats, posters and crafts. The tables have the same brightly-coloured cloth and simple paper place mats. The lingua franca es espagnol. It is a great place to try out basic Spanish. Everyone smiles. The food is good and cheap. Que tu queras: Club sandwich? Lasagna? Pasta? Pizza? Chef Salad? Omelet? It's all on the menu, but that isn't why most people are here.

They are sitting down to parihuela (huge bowls of seafood soup), overflowing platters of Picante de mariscos (seafood stew), cau-cau (tripe with potatoes, peas and rice) Chicharron de pollo (grilled chunks of chicken breast with potatoes and salad), or ceviche mixto (a super marinated seafood salad piled high with squid and shrimp). The batter-fried squid (chicharron de calamar) was heaped on a plate with a massive amount of delicious marinated sweet onions.

The quality of the dishes varies. We would keep away from sauces—such as the picante de mariscos—where the flavours seemed muddier and not as pronounced as in grilled or fried dishes.

We only went with the Peruvian fare but I want to come back and try some of the Mexican and generic Canadian dishes. The chicharron de pollo was great. The burritos and club sandwich should be too.

Desserts are weak. Coffee is too.

Prices are ridiculously cheap. Several main courses are under $4. It is easy to walk in with a $10 bill and walk out with change.

Our bill jumped by $29 when we ordered a bottle of Tacama, a Peruvian cabernet. It had a bit of punch and a full flavour that complimented the spicy salsa served with the fish dishes.—Review and photos/ Barry Lazar

Sample menu: Cream of shrimp, broiled stuffed potatoes, grilled shrimps, grilled chicken breast, fish or seafood ceviche, broiled trout, grilled lamb cutlets, vegetarian Mexican plate, "Canadian" dishes, crème caramel, rice pudding, cake du jour

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