"Buzzy Peruvian has great feisty flavours"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
There has been a lot of talk about this new Peruvian restaurant in Soho, mostly thanks to owner Martin Morales Twitter campaign and several introductory pop-ups in 2011. A look at Ceviche’s website reveals this is not cuisine for the fainthearted, as a hotchpotch of African, Creole, Chinese and Latin influences make up the menu.
It’s certainly as noisy as you would want a Latin eatery to be, and it’s barely past 1 pm on a Wednesday. The bar greets one at the entrance, and the dining area is at the back, with tables huddled close together and colourful cult posters filling the walls.
First off, the Pisco Sours are great, frothy, with tangy tequila, egg white and sugar syrup; they make an ideal palate cleanser for the hardcore. Wines are all South American (none from Peru mind) and there is one beer on the menu, the Peruvian Cusqueña, which is a little like lager but with a more malted kick.
Dishes are for sharing, between six and eight are suggested for two people (priced between £7 and £10 means they are not for the faint of wallet either). The first one to arrive is the Alianza Lima ceviche containing “tiger’s milk”, the name given to the fierce lime and chilli marinade that cures the fish and not, thankfully, anything to do with lactating felines. It’s a brilliant first dish; sharp citrus and coriander are perky flavours, and juicy prawns, octopus, squid, plump mussels and chunks of whiting (the fish of the day) absorb the zestiness, complemented by slithers of red onion and plump choclo corn kernels which taste like butter beans.
The “anticuchos”, or grilled marinated meat on skewers are great; the rump steak is smoky and tender, even better is the beef heart, rosy in the middle and deliciously charred on the outside. The accompanying dipping sauces (peppery anticuchera and a mellower chilli-based aji panca respectively) go relatively untouched as it seems perverse to meddle.
“Arroz con pato” is a juicy confit of duck, served on buttery rice cooked in dark beer – although this is imperceptible - with peas and yet more inflated bits of corn. A spongy corn cake made with feta cheese is curiously sweet, we like it, but it may not be to everyone’s palate, while the meaty, braised octopus paired with spicy chorizo is fantastic, and makes us want to never eat octopus done any other way, ever (momentarily at least).
For dessert, a very rich chirimoya mousse (custard apple to me and you) with a dollop of creamy port wine meringue is sprinkled with cinnamon, and more cinnamon flavours the sponge soaked in pisco with sticky dulce de leche and ice cream; both are intense, gloopy and clever.
If you like your food feisty and served in a buzzy restaurant, Ceviche is just the place.
Image: Ceviche Pisco Bar - Credit Photo: Paul Winch-Furness
Leila reviewed Ceviche on Thu 10 May 2012