There he was. Sprawled majestically down the filthy reception stairs of my cheap student housing dorm in Bristol, England. His hangover was evident: Squinting bloodshot eyes. Hoarse voice. Slurred words. Yesterday’s clothes. I don’t remember exactly what I said when he groaned and lifted himself up off the stairs just enough to ask for my number. I do remember thinking, “Holy shit, is this a homeless dude? I should’ve read more dorm reviews.”
As it turns out, I really should have read more dorm reviews. Chantry Court student housing was a whole hell of a lot less fancy than it sounded. The hungover Peruvian sprawled down those stairs, though? He wasn’t homeless. He was my future husband.
Over the course of our one-year graduate degrees, this magnificent swarthy charmer convinced most of the local Thai girls that he was a Peruvian lord, occasionally out-partied the Nigerians, and completely swept me off my feet. About a year after graduation we eloped to Miami (which my supremely patient and loving father has since forgiven), and another year later, we had globe-trotted down to Peru.
So, to give a fair introduction, this blog is technically a review. But the most important part of a review is being impartial. And I’m not. I am laughably biased. I love La Rosa Nautica. I’ve loved it since the first time my husband drove me into Lima alongside the ocean and we passed it, this lovely glowing island restaurant sitting out on the waves. I love its lacy white and blue railings. I love its charming lampposts. I love its name: The Nautical Rose.
La Rosa Nautica was built in the 1980s, and it offers a set of artisan shops along the pier. On all our past visits here, we’ve walked leisurely down the boardwalk, watched the surfers or the glittering lamp light, depending on whether it’s day or night, and then entered the bar for a Pisco Sour. But this night was different. This night was our fourth anniversary. Ivo hadn’t told me where we were headed, only that he was taking me out for dinner. When we pulled into La Rosa Nautica’s parking lot, I almost fainted. Here? We’re going into the restaurant? The actual restaurant area? Not just the bar? Why the heck didn’t he tell me to dress nicer??
The entryway into the restaurant is long, qualifying as more of an ornate hallway. To break it up, I guess, they drenched the righthand wall in so much live greenery it looked like a slice of jungle. I should probably mention that I also love roses, so it’s noteworthy that La Rosa Nautica appropriately had enormous live rose displays perched on the reception desk and in the main dining area.
The dining room where we were seated looked like a movie set. It was smartly divided into private seating areas with ornate wooden fences. The striped wallpaper and floor length mirrors drew your eyes straight up, first into a layer of vines and floating lights, then further up along the white, lighthouse-esque ceiling. And though I didn’t take a photo of them, seated to the far side of us was an immaculately dressed man pushing 60 years old on what definitely appeared to be a date with a woman who was maybe late thirties at best. That’s right. This place was so romantic that rich old dudes were taking their hot young lady friends there to impress them.
As noted, I went into this biased. I was in love with the restaurant before we ordered anything. It didn’t hurt, then, that Ivo’s pick of the ceviche – fish carpaccio – causa sampler was a profoundly good (if ambitious) choice. We spent at least an hour working our way through each new threesome, debating about which one was our favorite each time. After some debate, Ivo settled on a lamb dinner and I went for the salmon, which was drizzled with a lime-based sauce and served next to a pile of crumbled yellow potato and string carrots. Since the lime was Peruvian, the sauce tasted almost like lemon, sweet and tangy, and the salmon was absolutely infused with the flavor of it. This might mark the first time we were so full after three hours of food and wine that dessert wasn’t even an option.
In short, my husband is an extraordinary man who took me out for yet another magical night. You might notice him on his phone in the reflection in the photo below. Don’t worry. He’s just turning on his wifi so I could join the family WhatsApp chat as we shared a thousand photos of our romantic dinner (hey, we all deal with living away from our families in different ways). Immediately after, phones were off, and he was utterly focused on me and our fantastic life together, celebrating the best way we know how: With good booze, good food, lots of love, and an ocean breeze.