Peruvian food has gone from being virtually unheard of in London to being one of the most talked about cuisines in the city. Peruvian chef Martin Morales has been instrumental in making London fall in love with this South American cuisine when he opened Ceviche.
Frustrated with the absence of Peruvian restaurants in London, Martin quit his job and began doing supper clubs, followed by pop ups which finally culminated in the opening of the very popular Ceviche in 2010.
Its growing popularity has seen them launching a second restaurant called Andina as well as a cookbook which has been receiving raving reviews including being crowned Sunday Times ‘Cookbook of the Year’. Not bad going at all!
With all the buzz around Peruvian food and Ceviche, I just had to try it myself! So I booked a table on a busy Saturday night and ventured out with Seb to see what all the fuss was about.
Ceviche situated on Frith Street in Soho is laid-back, fuss-free, and unashamedly Peruvian – it’s unlike any other restaurant in London. The restaurant has a Ceviche Bar in the front where you can see these experts make Ceviche right in front of you – it doesn’t get fresher than that! If you are after something a bit more relaxed, they have proper tables in the back complete with 60s Peruvian tracks and mood lighting.
Be prepared to get to know your fellow diners at Ceviche – the tables are very closely packed into this compact space making it really cosy. I personally didn’t mind this as it adds to the relaxed dining experience at Ceviche.
We ordered some Pisco Sour and Cancha on the recommendations of our chirpy waiter and browsed through the menu. The Pisco Sour is the national drink of Peru and one sip is all you need to discover why! It’s absolutely amazing and makes the perfect accompaniment to the morish Peruvian corn (Cancha) we ordered. Imagine popcorn but with corn popped inside out – that’s Cancha and quite brilliant. Definitely worth a try.
Ceviche is a tapas bar where you are expected to order a few small plates from the menu which was absolutely fine by me! It gave Seb and me the perfect opportunity to dive right in and try a variety of Peruvian delicacies. The menu has a wide selection of ceviche dishes (as you would expect) but also has a varied selection of non ceviche dishes if you fancy something else.
The highlight of the night for me, however was the Causa Lola Fernandez. The salmon tartare, avocado and spring onion served up on a smooth cool potato cake with rocoto mayo was absolutely heavenly! I was tempted to order another plate of this beauty but resisted the urge so that I could sample the rest of the menu – the things I do for this blog! The texture of the potato cake was something else and the salmon and avocado topping really completed this dish. If you do go to Ceviche and order one dish, make it the Causa Lola Fernandez – it’s definitely worth a try.
We also ordered three dishes from the Anticuchos (grilled skewers) menu.
The Panza and Higo which was braised pork belly and confit figs in pisco topped with pork cracling served up on a sweet potato purée.
The Pulpo and Chorizo, a dish of marinated and braised octopus and chorizo skewers with a choclo corn purée and rocoto pepper cream sauce.
And finally the Corazón Mío, which was a serving of tender beef heart marinated in panca chilli with choclo corn and rocoto chilli cream.
All three grilled skewer dishes were a treat! The pork belly was perfectly marinated and the meat melted in your mouth. The beef heart was definitely different with quite a few complex flavours on one plate but the dish that stood out to me the most was the octopus and chorizo skewer. The chorizo and the octopus combination worked beautifully and the choclo corn purée and rocoto pepper cream sauce framed the flavours beautifully. I would definitely recommend all three. The chefs at Ceviche really know their meats and how to make them stand out.
The only dish I wasn’t a fan of was the Mackerel Escabeche. The hot marinated mackerel served up with tomatoes, red onion, panca and amrillo chilli and topped with spring onions and Peruvian olives was a little too rustic and watery for my liking. Mackerel is quite an acquired taste anyways and it unfortunately wasn’t for me.
With enough food to keep us going for a while, we ordered a few more cocktails from the impressive selection at Ceviche and ordered some dessert. The extensive cocktail menu at Ceviche is absolutely brilliant – you have so many options to choose from and a lot of them are quite unique including the Pisco Sour.
The Pecado de Chocolate was the perfect end to quite an impressive meal. This chocolate tart with ají panca and sea salt served up with physalis coulis and dulce de leche granizado ice cream looked the part and definitely tasted the part too! The hints of sea salt in the chocolatey tart combined with the physalis coulis and the dulce de leche granizado ice cream was a match made in heaven.
That was all the food we could handle for one night. We paid the bill and headed out into busy Soho to enjoy the rest of the night.
I really liked Ceviche. It’s unashamedly Peruvian and proud. It is slightly on the expensive side however, but the food is definitely worth it. Trying out all the well perfected Peruvian dishes was an absolutely delight. Our friendly waiter was very charming and the whole team made us feel really welcome. Martin is definitely on to a winner with Ceviche. I cannot wait to come back and try some more of the food (and the Pisco Sour of course)!