I've been day dreaming about Peru and Bolivia a lot lately while planning my next big adventure to climb a mountain, so Ceviche with all it's hype seemed like the perfect place for a lazy grazey lunch.
Ceviche, is one of the newest small plates swanky-casual restaurants to open in Soho, yet still manages to stand out from it's peers. I arrived and shuffled through the narrow entrance past the trendy pisco (traditional Peruvian spirit) bar with single diners perched at the counter, to the chilled yet sophisticated dining room where I met my friends who were waiting with their first drink, a pisco sour.
Not having tried peruvian food before, we let ourselves be guided entirely by our waiter. She was excellent, and her knowledge of the elements of every dish was impeccable. She knew we were newbies yet didn't want the safe options and advised what dishes would work together. We ordered to start the house specialty Don Ceviche - fresh seabass in an amarillo chilli and lime tigers milk, Alianza Ceviche - fresh prawns fish squid and octopus in a rococo chilli tigers milk and quinoa salad with chilli, fresh tomato, avocado and butter beans. Both ceviches were fantastic, I'm not sure what I expected but these were both better than I imagined. I had thought the tigers milk marinade would be much of the same and the fish would drive the flavours, however this wasn't the case. Although the fish tasted perfectly fresh, both of the marinades provided a very different experience. It was the Don Ceviche that I favoured, but only ever so slightly. The lime was interesting in the marinade, it was zingy and added a second dimension to the dish that the Alianza Cebiche just didn't have, and the seabass was simply delicious with an incredible smooth texture from the tigers milk. The quinoa salad was equally impressive, with loads of ripe avocado and fresh tomato.
The steak skewers were cooked rare and were a delight to eat, yet were a little understated without the additional punch from the anticucho sauce. A work of art on a plate was the causa mar which boasted an overpoweringly dense potato cake. The Arroz Con Pato rounded off the meal nicely. The confit duck was well roasted and full of gamey flavour, and the coriander rice not only added colour, but kick.
We weren't sure desserts were necessary, and if you find yourself in this same dilemma please trust me and try one! We went for the cinnamon sponge soaked in pisco with dulce de leche Ice cream and chiricahua fruit mouse. Both were to die for. The sponge packed a massive cinnamon sweet punch, the perfect textures of the mouse melted at first bite. Utterly delicious.
I can certainly appreciate the hype surrounding Ceviche. It's unique, conceptual, delicious, fresh and a welcomed break from the rich or meat heavy London small plate craze. I want to go back, and I want to go back soon.