Peruvian cuisine is hugely trendy at the moment, and this little gem of a place on Essex Road is the first time I've tried what is becoming renowned as the best of Latin American food. There's a Spanish tapas feel initially but both the differences and similarities become obvious as we indulge in as much Inca fare as we can.
Choosing from the menu proved inconclusive as we all wanted to try everything, so in the end we went for two of the special platters, which was enough for five people, deceivingly so, as it seemed so little, but made us all satisfied. Pretty much everything in the menu was contained in these two dishes so it was exactly what we needed.
The most traditional and possibly best known dish from Peru, is of course, the ceviche. These are usually fish and vegetables 'cooked' in citric juices and are served cold. A lot of pulses and vegetables mixed in gave texture and flavour. My favourite meat dish was the chicaronnes de cerdo - deep-fried pork with cassava and chimmichurri sauce. Not hot at all - until the aftertaste kicked in!
Some similarities to my beloved Spanish food were the deep-fried cassava and cheese balls, reminiscent of croquettas, and much grilled seafood. Alongside this, the unfamiliar plantain, Peruvian corn, and palm hearts. The fusion of hearty traditional stews with modern unique dishes gives a whole wealth of new dishes which I will be more than happy to return to explore.
(Speaking of heart, one dish was actually heart, cooked and tasting similar to liver, definitely worth a try.)
Desserts were most unusual. Chilli ice-cream? What a paradox. But it worked. It worked well. The chocolate mousse with pisco, Peru's traditional spirit, was delicious, and the rococo pepper ice cream intensified all the dessert flavours.
|Mousse de Pisco y Chocolate|
|Helado Frito de Rocoto|
|Picarones y Helados|
We were left feeling totally satisfied, as you do when eating tiny amounts of lots of different plates. And also indulged. When I go back I know what I want more of!
164 Essex Road
020 7354 5586
Meal for two with wine ~£80