lunches at Ceviche, Soho...

Some months ago I attended the pisco fuelled launch of Martin Morales' Ceviche.  I'd been following Martin's progress for months on twitter, and as a ceviche addict was particularly looking forward to getting my hands on some great raw fish.  That night we found ourselves at the far end of the room and very little food made it to our table - as the waiting staff piled trays high with succulent beef, and raw fish, greedy hands grabbed at dishes as soon as they entered the room.  They did manage to get great glasses of pisco to us, and bottles of beer, and we quickly divided up any morsels which did survive long enough to reach us.  These morsels merely whetted my appetite, and it took some weeks before I was able to get a booking to try Ceviche for myself.

Making our way into the bright and cheerful room, @clareangela, @obotheclown and I were full of anticipation.  We looked at the menu - it all looked so good!  We decided to grab a number of dishes to share, so that we could try as much as possible.

My companions began with Cancha, crunchy Peruvian salted corn kernels, which they said tasted nothing like our popcorn kernels, despite looking like that. They thought they were very flavoursome.

Don Ceviche is a seabass ceviche in ají amarillo chilli, tiger’s milk, ají limo chilli, and red onions.  Ají is the chilli element of the ceviche, and the tigers milk is the resulting citrus liquor, which includes lime juice.  The dish is topped with crunchy sweet potato.  The sea bass was meaty and fresh, and perfectly acidic.  You will need to order more than one portion if there are a few of you though, as you won't want to share.

In the background of that picture is also Sakura Maru - not strictly Peruvian but more of a Japanese influenced ceviche of sliced salmon in Nikkei tiger’s milk, made with satsumas, mirin, soy sauce and ají limo chilli. Again refreshing and moreish.

Causa Santa Rosa came as a beetroot salad, with Peruvian potatoes, coriander, with an olive sauce - smooth, clean, creamy, tangy - with crunchy deep fried sweet potatoes on top.  Surprisingly addictive -  given how creamy it looks - it's a very refreshing salad.   I don't think the others liked this as much as me, but I found it a very good foil for the acidity of the ceviche.

Next, the meatier dishes - first rump steak marinated in ají panda chilli, anticucho sauce with grilled potato slices - tender, spicy and meaty, the beef disappeared as quickly as it arrived. It was a funny lunch, all having quite different food upbringings, we kept comparing dishes to things we'd eaten as children. Obo, reminisced about the beef of his childhood. We also had Arroz con Mariscos - seafood rice with pisco, ají amarillo chilli, rocoto chilli and red peppers.
When we moved onto Lomo Saltado (wok cooked slices of beef fillet, red onions, tomatoes, ají amarillo chilli, chips and salt ado sauce) Clare tried to educate me into the Northern thing about chips and gravy.  As someone who hates gravy at the best of times, and certainly doesn't want it on my chips, it was a bit of a moot point for me. The vegetables and the beef were yummy, but I can't see myself taking up meaty soaked chips any time soon. Clare, however, had a small look of bliss on her face.

We finished with a lúcuma ice-cream - mainly because I insisted they try it.  I'd had it that mad pisco-fuelled night, and just remember being blown away by the similarity of ice cream made with fresh lúcuma fruit pulp to our own butterscotch pudding flavour.  Completely impossible to describe, the similarities between lúcuma fruit and butterscotch is amazing - I kept trying to convince our waitress that we had something similar but I don't think she believed me.
Ceviche is a great place to go for some casual fresh food with chums.  There's a pisco bar at the front serving tapas style dishes - so whether I'm looking for a quick plate of clean food for myself, or a relaxed environment to share dishes - Ceviche is going on my regular list.

17 Frith St
London W1D 4RG

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