After loving the Peruvian-Japanese cuisine at Chotto Matte, it seems I hadn’t yet had enough Peruvian food, and within only a few days I was back on Frith Street at popular Peruvian restaurant Ceviche.
Ceviche has a lovely story behind it – it wasn’t just some random who saw that Peruvian food was becoming a ‘thing’ and jumped at the gap in the market; it was started by passionate Peruvian-born Martin Morales, first as a supper club and pop-up, before gaining a sufficient following to open a permanent restaurant in Soho.
The space is very long and narrow – if you have a table of 11 and the booking before yours is taking quite a long time to settle their bill, the entrance of the restaurant isn’t particularly comfortable as a waiting area! Regardless, it is a very cool space. Designed by Peruvian designer Tom Schneider and Martin himself, the ceviche and pisco bar resembles a Peruvian style fish market bar, whilst the restaurant itself is designed to look like Lima’s bohemian district, Barranco. More specifically, the design was in fact inspired by Martin’s favourite bar in Barranco, Bar Juanito, with bright colours, wooden floors, bold posters and bistro-style furniture.
Just a small piece of advice when it comes to ordering: everything is designed for sharing, yet portions aren’t huge. Therefore, firstly, don’t be selfish and, secondly, make sure you have enough of everything to go around the table, so that might mean ordering several of each dish.
Cancha is one of the things I remember most fondly about living in Peru. This crunchy Peruvian corn is the perfect thing to nibble on while sipping a Pisco Sour and waiting for the food to arrive. We were also recommended to sprinkle some cancha on our Don Ceviche, to give it a fun texture. You would hope that if a restaurant calls itself Ceviche, then its namesake would be excellent, and thankfully this was certainly the case. This stack of seabass, aji amarillo leche de tigre, limo chilli, sweet potato crisps and red onions was deliciously fresh, with just the right citrusy zing to it and beautiful contrasting textures.
The black kingfish tiradito was equally fresh and tasty, bathed in yuzu leche de tigre for an even more intense citrusy kick, although perhaps for £9 there wasn’t quite enough fish to go around.
The ensalada de quinoa – a stack of white quinoa, tomatoes, avocado, butter beans and coriander – was also lovely and light, with differing textures that worked together well.
Another of my favourite dishes from my childhood in Peru is Lomo Saltado, a simple kind of beef stir fry with red onions, tomatoes, potatoes and, usually, rice. At Ceviche, there is no rice and it is served with what they call ‘proper’ chips. Either way, the beef is delicious, tender and flavoursome, although, again, for £13 I would probably have expected a little more.
Whilst I absolutely loved the yucas fritas (fried cassava chips) served with huancaína sauce, I was less impressed by the cheese and chard tequeños. I think, however, that the reason for this is that I was expecting my native Venezuelan style tequeños (which are one of my favourite things in the world) and these were infinitely different. Perhaps the batter was too thick and crispy, perhaps there wasn’t enough cheese inside and the flavour was masked by the chard and olives, or perhaps I just needed to forget about Venezuela’s magical tequeños and enjoy them for what they were, as the rest of the table did.
Despite already having had one chocolate tart earlier that day at Hawksmoor, I couldn’t resist the Pecado de Chocolate (chocolate sin), a beautifully silky chocolate tart with aji panca and sea salt, served with dulce de leche ice cream. The rocoto panna cotta, made with sweet rocoto peppers and vanilla, served with sweet potato coulis, took us all by surprise. As well as having the perfect texture, it had a subtle yet satisfying kick to it that nicely balanced all the flavours of the meal.
As I have already mentioned, portions are small and, at times, a little pricey for their size, so your bill may end up shooting up quite quickly. Nevertheless, it’s not going to break the bank (especially in comparison to what you’d pay in HK). The food is tasty, service is efficient and overall it’s a very fun experience that justifies the slight difficulty in getting a reservation (definitely book in advance!).
17 Frith Street
London W1D 4RG
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7292 2040