Ready to shake off the torpor of winter with the cool hiss of a pisco sour and zingy platefuls of ceviche? Then look no further than Martin Morales’ latest East End restaurant as he continues to pioneer his native Peruvian cuisine in the city.
Located in the old Alexandra Trust Dining Rooms, opened during Queen Victoria’s reign, the menu pulls together the Criollo, Chifa and Nikkei influences of Peruvian food with playful tributes to its surroundings.
Highlights include the sublime scotch egg-like huevo criollo – a runny golden yolker rolled in a crunchy shell of quinoa and black pudding-like sangrecita sausage. There’s also a nod to an East End classic with jalea de anguila – a beautiful plate of crispy fried eel and seabass belly with chilli tartare sauce and salsa criolla.
Overall, the menu caters deftly for both the ardent Peruvian cooking fan and patrons that aren’t yet up to fried lamb brains and barbecued chicken hearts (both delicious incidentally). Safer options include the steak with a fried egg, plantain, beans and cured pork – or the classic pollo a la brasa rotisserie chicken with chips and amarillo chilli, one of the core flavours of Peruvian food.
Ceviche, unsurprisingly, is the signature dish and we picked a beautiful plate of silky tuna slices with tiny emerald green roquito peppers that burst open in your mouth and radish-like daiko. The crispy vermicelli on top didn’t really add anything, but nor did it detract from the plate.
Dishes arrive as small plates and they recommend three to four, which is probably on the generous side given the state we waddled out in, but with so many good things to choose from over-ordering is no bad thing.
Arguably the beauty of Peruvian food isn’t about complicated techniques, it’s about matching high quality, fresh, flavours and textures and my favourite dish was also one of the simplest – crispy twists of marinated beef heart skewers in hot sauce from the big open charcoal grill, a hat tip to Lima street food. Also don’t leave without trying the pumpkin picarones (doughnuts) with honey and cinnamon that proved a hit at Andina.
With lusty Latin American beats playing over a packed 130-cover space, frothy pisco pouring by the pint load and splashes of bright contemporary Peruvian art for sale on the walls, it’s a big and busy place for brunch, lunch, dinner and take-out.
Ceviche Old Street
2 Baldwin Street
Old Street, EC1V 9NU