The problem is that small plates are great in South America and Spain
for an evening in a bar with mates. Here, you’re in a jammed restaurant
listening to the people on the next table. Still, our starter of don ceviche
(raw sea bass) was fabulous – the lime and coriander really brought out
the flavour of the fish and I loved the red onions. The ceviche of
octopus was OK, although the caper sauce overpowered the seafood.
The next two dishes were repulsive. Solterito – a salad with broad beans
(not in season so presumably frozen), olives, corn and feta – arrived
freezing cold. Causa santa rosa, billed as a beetroot salad,
came fridge-cold, on a slab of cold green potato. No thanks!
We chose a couple of barbecued dishes, which are popular street
food in Peru – ox heart and octopus. The heart was gorgeously tender,
with a hot chilli sauce – shame it was served cold. Octopus was the
evening’s big hit – braised until it was meltingly soft and barbecued
in chunks, though it did come with that dreary green potato. Arroz
con mariscos, which was like a mini-paella, was very salty and rather
bland, although it contained a decent amount of squid and prawns.
I drank a good Chilean sauvignon blanc. My non-drinking partner
drank a chicha morada – a red maize drink I thought was like
a designer Irn Bru.
Dishes are made for sharing so we kicked off with some hot, salty,
nutty Peruvian corn and tequeños – crispy cheese-filled wontons
with a rocoto chilli dip.
Many dishes include tiger’s milk – the lime-based marinade Ceviche
uses to ‘cook’ its fresh ingredients. The lovely citrus flavours of don
ceviche (pieces of juicy sea bass, tiger’s milk and sweet red onions with
chilli) were matched in the silky, soy-salty salmon-based sakura maru.
Also on the menu are anticuchos (grilled skewers) and recuerdos
(classic favourites). The salmon grilled skewer had been marinated in
a delicious rocoto sauce and chargrilled, and was served with plump
nuggets of choclo, a Latin American variety of corn.
The rice-based arroz con mariscos included the softest squid;
by contrast, jalea was crispy, fried squid – tentacles and all – combined
with fish, prawns and a pepper and lime salsa. We ordered sides of
a broad bean, corn, olive and feta salad, and a potato cake made
with coriander and topped with beetroot – the only dish
we thought a bit heavy.
For pudding, we had a heavenly rich mousse
made from rare Peruvian Fortunato No 4 chocolate.
And ice cream made with lúcuma fruit – ‘the gold
of the Incas’ – tasted of toffee and maple syrup and
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This is small plates of bar food
at restaurant prices. Although
the place has its initial buzz, it’s
all a bit like the first of a future
chain. The staff are friendly
enough and the atmosphere
seems to work for Soho media
and advertising types, but
it’s not somewhere for
a special date. We passed
on the desserts, only drank
two glasses of wine, and with
service it still came to almost
£40 a head. And I’d expected
it to be spicier than it was, after
reading all that stuff on the
menu about chillies.
A fantastic find – I’ve already
recommended Ceviche to
friends and will be booking
again soon. New flavours, new
ingredients, exotic dishes and
drinks – don’t miss the pisco
sour cocktail made with
Peruvian brandy, lime and egg
whites – plus informative,
courteous and helpful staff all
go to make this Peruvian
EAT IN � EAT OUT ��EAT AWAY
■ Janet’s bill for two:
Eight plates, one chicha morada (£3),
one large glass sauvignon blanc
(£7.25), one regular glass sauvignon
blanc (£5.45), excluding service.
VALUE FOR MONEY? No. I hate
small plates – the bill quickly mounts.
GO AGAIN? No. I love ceviche
– I just don’t want to have the woman
on the table behind me poking me
in the back while I’m eating.
JANET’S TOTAL 20/30
bill for two: £93.95
Nine plates, two desserts, one pisco
sour (£5.50), two superchaco
(£4.50 each), one chicha morada
(£3), two regular glasses sauvignon
blanc (£5.45 each), excluding service.
VALUE FOR MONEY? Yes.
GO AGAIN? Yes, absolutely.
JULY 2012 O