Barranco I Love YouMore pictures
I’m always on the look out for something new so when I heard of a Peruvian restaurant and ceviche/pisco bar in Soho it was somewhere I knew I would have to go to. With a menu split into sections – ceviche, salads, grills and classics (though don’t worry there is no cuy on the menu) and desserts there is plenty on offer for the hungry and plenty of interesting sounding ingredients to go around for the inquisitive but for me unfortunately it was a meal of ups and downs and, this morning one huge revelation.
Further dowsing my idea that central London during the Olympics would be pleasantly peaceful the place was full and turning people away by the time I arrived with a 6.45pm reservation already booked up. The bar area is kept for the no-reservations crowd but there is a large(ish) area at the back containing tables that you can book; this is where I’m seated and the first thing that hits me is the din. It’s not a huge space and it didn’t seem THAT full but the chat of numerous tables, lack of windows and a low (by restaurant standards ceiling) really keep all that noise in the room. Not to be put off by the racket I put on my best acting voice and start ordering off the menu, they suggest 3 to 4 dishes per person but being able to eat like a horse and wanting to ensure that I’ve sampled a good range of dishes I go for 5 though to be fair one is a salad (or so I thought). *SPOILER ALERT – I over-ate*.
The place is called ceviche, their menu says that ceviche is the perfect place to start so I thought why not and went for a ‘Barranco I Love You’ which is seabass marinated in ‘tigers milk’ (nothing to do with Charlie Sheen just a lime based marinade) with green mango, basil and flecks of chilli. It sounds like a pretty dish but presentation wise things were a little bit lacking and it felt like there was rather a large amount of marinade left on the plate but the taste was zingy, the fish was well filleted and firm to bite if cut a little bit thicker than the advertised thin slices. The chilli and mango provided a bit of heat and sweetness to ensure that you don’t just get a mouthful of lime juice. The name of the restaurant is ceviche and while I liked the dish I felt that maybe a bit more effort might have been taken in the presentation of what in all essence is the signature dish.
Next up I get my ‘salad’ of Causa Santa Rosa (beetroot salad on a peruvian potato cake with olive sauce). I’ve had some amazing beetroot dishes in the past but this unfortunately wasn’t one, it was a dish relying a bit too much on mayo to bring everything together – the beetroot salad was finely diced beets mixed with a mayo and the olive sauce being a dollop of purple looking mayo with a pretty delicate olive taste. The peruvian potato cake was little more than a cold coriander mashed potato cake and a thick stoggy one at that. I’ve always gone by the mantra of
you don’t win friends with salad and they certainly didn’t with this one, but at least I could say that I had had a salad as part of my 5 courses and not sound as greedy.
I get my final 3 dishes all at once and my eyes brighten as these all look really good. I ordered 2 dishes from the grilled skewers menu – corazón (tender beef heart marinated in panca chilli anticucho sauce) and pulpo (braised octopus marinated in panca chilli with chorizo chunks) and a ‘classic’ dish of arroz con pato (confit duck in coriander and dark beer rice ). The duck had a perfect crisp skin and could be pulled apart with a fork, I expected it to still be on the bone but nope, there was no bone in sight meaning that for a sharing dish it’s rather substantial as it sits atop what doesn’t look like the sexiest rice you’ve ever seen but one that I couldn’t stop picking away at well after I told myself I was full. Both skewers (you get 2 per portion) had been cooked in a way that while having a big taste of smoke also kept the main flavour being that of the meat on them. The octopus sandwiched in-between thick chunks of chorizo had maybe taken on a bit too much of the chorizo oil to say that they had the perfect texture (they ended up rather oily) but the sausage/fish combo worked well. For an whole £4 cheaper than octopus the heart was the standout dish for me with thin slices of heart being cooked just pink, having that slightly rich offal taste, tasting perfectly smokey and moist.
I had said I would save space for pudding and while to be honest I hadn’t the idea of chocolate physalis volador (crispy cookies filled with Fortunato no4 Peruvian chocolate fudge and aguaymanto jam) sounded rather special but unfortunately again disappointed as in my head I had picture thick, chewy, just cooked dough with a thin layer of rich oozing chocolate but instead got thin cold cookies with a fairly thick, cold layer of rich chocolate. I can’t deny the chocolate sauce was delicious but it could have been served in a pot, or a pisco glass and not had anything else getting in the way of its exquisite taste.
So all in all I had highs and I had lows at Ceviche. The ceviche I liked, the skewers I loved but I could have done without everything else to be honest. I had a couple of cocktails (pisco sour and a coffee based Toro Mata) and wish I had had a couple more instead of a few glasses of very average wine I had while eating my food. It feels like I’ve been rather harsh on Ceviche and in a way I guess I have done but I think that’s more my fault than theirs; it maybe isn’t the best restaurant ever for food but for an experience I can imagine sitting at the bar, sharing plates of ceviche and/or some skewers, drinking my way through the cocktail menu and having a whale of a time. Unfortunately I did pretty much the opposite yesterday – but you live and learn.Tweet