Ben Poremba and Andrew Enrique Cisneros partner for new concept Brasas at AO&Co. this summer
Last year, one of St. Louis dining’s breakout concepts was Andrew Enrique Cisneros’ Peruvian pollo a la brasas pop-up at Mike Randolph’s Clayton Tex-Mex and barbecue spot Original J’s, which we named a Best New Restaurant for 2020; in part for his work there, we called Cisneros a One to Watch earlier this year. Now, Cisneros has left Original J’s to work once again with Ben Poremba, who he previously cooked for at Elaia, on a new concept out of Poremba’s Botanical Heights market AO&Co. (1641 Tower Grove Ave.) called Brasas, slated to open this summer.
Poremba, who was already a big fan of Peruvian cooking, fell in love with Cisnero’s pollo a la brasas last year and knew he wanted to work with Cisneros again. “The product speaks for itself,” Poremba said. “Isn’t it the best thing you’ve ever had in your life?” For their new project, they’ve purchased a trailer that will operate on the patio just outside AO&Co. “We saw this kickass trailer – it looked like it could have a Michelin-starred kitchen,” Poremba explained. It's currently being built out; soon, customers will be able to visit it for lunch and dinner.
The menu will be centered around Cisneros’ chicken, which is seasoned with citrus, beer and spices and cooked rotisserie-style, and served with a variety of flavorful, dairy-based sauces. The Peruvian chicken dish’s traditional pairing is thick-cut steak fries. “It’s just a mountain of fries and sauce,” Poremba said, laughing. For the small lunch menu, Cisneros will offer chicken sandwiches, street-style ceviche and causa, a layered cold casserole made with potato, chicken, mayo and Peruvian peppers, which he called “just a bright and beautiful dish, beautifully presented but familiar.” Dinner will feature half and whole chickens, fries, sauces and salads, as well as the dishes from the daytime menu. Diners will be able to eat on the patio or take their food to go.
Cisneros’ work with brasas came from a desire to connect to his roots and master a style of cooking he’d grown up with. “I was missing it so much,” he said. “That’s why I started it.” Developing the dish and its sides for years, he’s been happy to bring something new to the community. “It’s almost a secret to people outside of Peru,” he said.
Poremba and Cisneros don’t intend to stop with the trailer – both the causa and Cisneros’ sauces will also be sold inside AO&Co. alongside deli items from Nixta and Olio, and eventually, Poremba hopes, at other local grocery stores. Looking ahead, Poremba feels that if the restaurant is successful in St. Louis, it could expand to other cities.
Cisneros said days and hours of operation are still being developed, but speculated that Brasas could be open for lunch and dinner five days a week.
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