I didn’t know anything about ceviche or Peruvian cuisine before I happened across Martin Morales on Twitter. Previously working at both iTunes and Disney, Martin quit his job in 2010 to launch Ceviche in February 2012. I don’t know what it was about his tweets that drew me to want to try the cuisine, especially as ceviche is normally the kind of cuisine that would send me running for the hills, but want to try it I did. So when the opportunity to travel to London arose and the brief was to eat somewhere “different”, Mr Morales’ new place immediately sprung to mind.
So, what exactly is ceviche? Well, basically, it’s a seafood dish popular in coastal regions of central and South America. It is made by marinating freshwater fish in citrus juices such as lemon or lime and spicing with chilli. As no heat is used the fish must be prepared fresh. The origin of ceviche is disputed, although Peru claims it as its own.
We arrived at Ceviche, 15 minutes early, to find that it was hopping! So busy was it that there was no room to wait at the bar whilst they prepared our table, and so we detoured to the Hotel Chocolate opposite much to the delight of the female members of our party. On our return, our table was ready and we threaded ourselves through the bar,into the restaurant area at the rear and to our table.
Loud and exciting, this is not the place to come for a romantic dinner for two, but although deep and meaningful conversation was difficult, we were soon caught up in the atmosphere and with the help of a few Pisco sours (a traditional Peruvian cocktail) having a thoroughly good time.
The easiest way to describe Ceviche’s concept, is to think of it a little like “big tapas” or “little dishes”. Basically you would start with something from the ceviche bar and follow it up with a further two or three dishes per person. The dishes are very easy to share and so everyone can try a bit of this or a bit of that.
To start we ordered the Don Ceviche, Fresh seabass ceviche in Amarillo chilli tiger’s milk, limo chilli and red onions. I thought this dish was absolutely amazing, the quality of the fish was superb and the taste was clean fresh and vibrant.
We also ordered Drunk Scallops, Tiradito of thinly sliced king scallops, pisco, pomegranate, limo chilli, lime and coriander.
On the side we had Yucas, Fried cassava with Huancaina Sauce. Chicken Saltado Tequeños, Wonton fritters filled with Chifa style chicken and vegetables and also Cheese and Chard Tequeños, this time filled with melted cheese, fresh chard and Botija olives.
From there we moved on to some more familiar South American territory, grilled skewers (Anticuchos) and what were billed as classic favourites (Recuerdos).
We had skewers of Corazón, Tender beef heart marinated in panca chilli, anticucho sauce with choclo corn and Pulpo, braised octopus marinated in coriander with chorizo chunks served with a warm creamed quinoa.
Paiche Amazon Fish, Marinated in Amarillo chilli, with sweet potato salad and alfalfa sprouts garnish.
From the daily specials we had a couple of portions of Peruvian short pork ribs in a spicy marinade.
We also ordered Huancaína Macaroni, Peruvian cheese and Amarillo chilli sauce macaroni pasta.
For me the food delivered not only on flavour but they also introduced me to some interesting new combinations, scallops and pomegranate for example.
Even though there were five of us, we didn’t need to go overboard on the number of dishes we ordered, as they really are quite generously proportioned. In fact, not everyone had room for dessert. We tried two different desserts, the first being from the special board and unfortunately I can’t remember its name and the second being Encanelado de Pisco, which is cinnamon sponge soaked in Pisco spirit syrup served with Dolce de Leche ice cream.
I would happily go back to Ceviche again if I was in London and looking for somewhere casual with bags of atmosphere. Recommended.
17 Frith Street