The dish, served in an earthenware crock, could easily have been passed off to the inattentive as some kind of couscous casserole.
Soon after we were seated, the hound could be seen briefly flirting with the prix fixe because, in the dim light, our failing eyes had misread "Duart" (as in Loch Duart, farmer of salmon) as "duck." When not snapping up ceviche, the ceviche hound is a duck hound. But, on a squinting review, we discovered our error and were chastened. The evening's poultry choice turned out to be chicken, in the form of aji gallina ($18): shredded flesh bathed in a creamy sauce of aji amarillo (a kind of chili pepper) and served with home-style yucca fries. The chicken was lovely; the fries slightly less so. They were crisp but underseasoned and mealy inside, and I wondered if they wouldn't have been better if they'd been cut to a slimmer profile.
The gold standard for Peruvian cooking in this city seems to be, by my informal but emphatic tally, Mochica. Destino is good; its aji de gallina is delicious but Mochica serves a mean aji de gallina too, and unseating Mochica from is perch of preeminence is going to be a wicked project for somebody. Pretenders to the throne might do some of their strategic pondering over Destino's excellent churros y chocolate ($7) a trio of ridged, torpedo-shaped, cinnamon-scented beignets suitable for dipping into a demitasse full of warm chocolate sauce though those with long memories might respond to the suspiro, a dulce de leche treat that's been on the menu for years. Hip 30-year-olds in tight shirts have to be concerned about their figures, of course (irrespective of sex), but Destino's desserts aren't especially fattening, and anyway you can always walk it off, taking care to look both ways all ways always.*
Brunch: Sun., 11 a.m.2 p.m. Dinner: Mon.Thurs. and Sun., 510 p.m.; Fri.Sat., 511 p.m.
1815 Market, SF