It’s hard to ignore the ‘small plate’ revolution going on in London restaurants. Some, like me, love the chance to try as much as possible, whereas others, like my friend L, want to know what they own when their order arrives. That’s not to say L shares the view of my new favourite singer JJ Grey, who sings the warning ‘Stick ya hands near my plate, you’ll draw back a nub’ in Ho Cake, it’s just she’s one of many people whose heart melts slightly when they see the words ‘these plates are made for sharing’ written on a menu.
If you too hold this view, please don’t be put off by new Peruvian Kitchen and Pisco Bar Ceviche. Yes, the dishes are small and shareable, but it’s refreshing to enjoy ‘tapas style’ food that isn’t Italian or Spanish. In fact, it’s refreshing to enjoy Peruvian food full stop, as its not easy to come by in London.
I went to Ceviche with high expectations last Thursday to meet M for lunch. We both agreed it’d be rude not to try a Pisco Sour, so quickly ordered two as we worked our way through the hefty menu. As neither of us are experts on Peruvian cuisine, or knew what to expect from the exotic ingredients, we let our friendly waiter order what he considered to be the best plates.
First up was Cancha – crunchy Peruvian corn that went perfectly with our delicious drinks. Even though it looks a bit like a bowl of roasted bugs (something The Boyfriend pointed out earlier), they were utterly moreish and went at lightning speed.
Next came two dishes from the ceviche bar – Don Ceviche, which is fresh sea bass in an ají amarillo chilli tiger’s milk, covered in ají limo chilli and red onions…
…and Sakura Maru, also known as thinly sliced salmon in Nikkei tiger’s milk made with satsumas, mirin, soy sauce and ají limo chilli.
I know I haven’t got to the other dishes yet, but the ceviche really did steal the show, as both had a perfect balance of sweet and sour, with delicate strips of fish that melted in the mouth.
The ceviche was followed by Corazón – beef heart marinated in ají panca chilli anticucho sauce, served with choclo corn (gigantic corn) and ají amarillo chilli sauce…
…and Arroz con Pato, which is an easier to understand confit duck in coriander and dark beer rice.
The Corazón presented itself as skewers of juicy, tender meat, brought to life by the spicy sauce – far more aesthetically pleasing than the entire cow’s heart I’d imagined. I’d also expected the Arroz con Pato to be dry, but instead the meat was moist and the rice had a warm risotto like consistency.
To make sure we got our five-a-day, we also ordered Asparagus with Huancaína Sauce. Much like the genetically modified choclo corn, the asparagus was enormous so we only managed to get through a couple of sticks, smothering each in the cheesy chilli sauce.
We finished with Peruvian Corn Cake, which was unlike anything I’d tasted before. Made with favourite ingredient choclo corn, the cake was sprinkled with cooked feta, had the consistency of a slightly under baked sponge and almost seemed to have a floral aftertaste. It wasn’t unpleasant and, being new to Peruvian cooking, I’m not in a position to critique it, but I expect I’m not the only one who would question whether I’d order it again.
Ceviche gets a LLE Rating of 8.5/10. I’d love to go back in the evening when it’s really buzzing. It may not be the cheapest restaurant in town, but considering the variety of great food we had, £65 including tip sure ain’t bad.
Ceviche, 17 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4RD