I finally got to Ceviche. It has taken some time and I’m not entirely sure why, other than my wish-list gets longer every week and it’s not necessarily the sort of place that you can get into at the last minute. It’s very popular.
I was meant to be meeting a property journalist but she cancelled. As compensation for myself and given that I had stayed in London especially for the meeting, I thought that I would make the stay in London worthwhile and go somewhere for interesting lunch with the ever-positive C, my firm’s PR guru.
I was rather dismayed to discover that C was counting calories and had a scary new App which purports to tell you the calorie content of every possible food you might ever put into your mouth. Why would I ever want one of those?
She has lost over a stone since January however, so I am obviously just a teensy bit jealous and it might be that I have a little look at it over the weekend. I suspect I would give it challenges it has never before faced.
As it was, this is a very good choice for the weight-conscious, because it is possible to eat in an extremely healthy way.
Possible, but if you’re me, not probable and you will be pleased to know that I sampled some of the more calorific offerings on the menu, in the interests of you, the reader. Selfless, as ever.
It isn’t the place for a private conversation, although there was a late middle-aged couple next to us, who progressed from formality, to hand-holding, to face-sucking, within about half an hour. Perhaps it was the Pisco sours.
If you want to have a musical guided tour, here’s a link to a little video that they have posted on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELn37tZlHlU.
So we ordered Yucas, which is fried cassava, with a Huancaina sauce (pronounced wan-kay-eena, naturally) and which is a cheese onion and chili combination. The cassava could have passed very easily for roasted parsnip and £3 this was not going to break the bank altough it would be a good alcohol-sponge. I very much liked the Cancha, which was just simply crunchy roasted Peruvian corn. And then what is billed as “beetroot salad,, coriander smooth cool Peruvian potato cake”. I’m surprised at this description, as I look at it now, because it tasted very much like avocado, rather than potato.
But the main event is, of course, always going to be the ceviche. For those of you who do not know what ceviche is and can’t be bothered to look it up, it is, at its essence, raw fish marinated in lime. Here, each of the dishes are marinated in “tigers milk” , which is lime juice, sliced onion, chiles, salt, and pepper — along with a bit of fish juice.
And you can order six different types of ceviche which, if you are sitting at the bar, will be made in front of you. We ordered the mixed ceviche with fresh sea bass, mussels, prawns and octopus.and the sliced king scallops, with Pisco, lime, limo chile and coriander. The scallops were almost buttery in texture and incredibly fresh. This was a simple dish but a great combination of sweet, salty and sour. Likewise the tiradito of thinly sliced mackerel in gooseberry tiger’s milk with pecan nuts and panca chilli- so many new words – thank God for Google.
All of them were great dishes – the most expensive being the scallops at £11. Compared to, say, Nobu with some not entirely dissimilar dishes, this is good value.
We also had to have one fairly conventional grilled skewer, which was chicken marinated in Amarillo chile with a red and gold beetroot garnish. All good.
And in case we haven’t had enough food, the white quinoa salad with tomatoes, avocado, butter beans and coriander with lime and limo chilli vinaigrette. For me, this was the dish that promised most, but delivered least.
I know. You’re wondering where I’ve hidden the carbs. Of course, and because we really did not need, I ordered the Peruvian corn cake, which is made with choclo corn and queso fresco. It was very similar in taste and texture to deep-fried polenta, but sweeter. And probably even more fattening but it was excellent and obviously I managed to eat a fair amount of it on my own, given that C’s weight loss App did a computer says no to that particular dish.
The food is fresh and vibrant. There is a liberal use of chilli, coriander and corn. There are punchy flavours. You can eat a lot or a little (if you are not me) and the food is healthy. It’s not expensive. Service is friendly and efficient. The alcoholic offerings look worth a visit on their own. I wouldn’t recommend doing that at lunchtime. Not if you have to go back and draft a lease, or something equally thrilling.
Did I mention that I liked it?