By Paul Colston
Having sampled more than a little Peruvian food on holiday in Miami in the summer, I jumped at the opportunity to try out a similar restaurant atmosphere back home in London where Peruvian cuisine continues to send its ripple effect beyond the early and fashionable adopters.
The London-based Ceviche embraces four restaurants: Casita Andina, Ceviche Soho, Ceviche Old St and Andina in Shoreditch, and they all provide a real spicy treat for the palate, if perhaps less so for the wallet.
Ceviche in Soho has claims to have been instrumental in kick-starting London’s Peruvian restaurant revolution when it opened in 2012 and the Soho and Old St properties are now both Michelin Guide listed award-winning restaurants.
Tourism board Promperu took over the Ceviche Old St one evening this summer to celebrate, together with two dozen travel buyers, the opening of a new non-stop London-Lima flight service from British Airways.
And there should also be plenty of Christmas party business flowing in to the Ceviche venues this year and award-winning Peruvian chef and restaurateur Martin Morales and his team have created a fusion of traditional dishes for organisers to choose from.
Morales is quite a character: at Leeds University in the mid 1990s he started a Global Kitchen night with himself on the DJ decks. He would cook and DJ at the same time. Indeed, he has also produced over 100 music compilations by artists including John Coltrane, Lee Scratch Perry and Kirsty Macoll.
The spaces are limited, of course, but the dining room in Ceviche Soho accommodates groups of up to 60 and at Old Street up to 120.
My own food recommendation, for what it’s worth, would be the signature Don Ceviche dish, made with sea bass.
There are also joiner events for those after a bit more knowledge and, perhaps, some teambuilding. These include ‘Soulfood Sessions’ which features some of London’s most exciting chefs, as well as a choice of masterclasses – Pisco cocktail making (Sundays) or Peruvian cookery (Tuesdays).
Dishes to attempt to conjure up could include sugar-pit cured pork belly, wild boar seco as well as the chance to experiment with elderberry, pomegranate, spring onion, corn cakes and plenty of avocado.
Ceviche Old St also has a gallery which features works from 50 Peruvian artists.