In the heart of Soho, a welcoming Peruvian bar/restaurant, specialising in the cured fish speciality of its homeland; though perhaps no bargain, it struck us as a welcoming and innovative all-rounder.
erhaps understandably in the circumstances of our booking, but unsought by us, they wouldn’t let us pay for our meal at this new Soho South American on its first week of business. Always difficult that for reviewers who pride themselves on paying their own way. But let’s press on; many of the aspects of the restaurant-going experience are unaffected by either the fact that one has been 'recognised’, or by the separate, if related, fact that one has unexpectedly received a gift from the management.
What is clear is that this is a bit of a labour of love, and innovative too – you know any other Peruvians? Mercifully, the ironic deconstruction which is generally a hallmark of the Soho new wave is absent here. You enter via a small and rather characterful bar which we'd guess will become quite a destination for lovers of the Pisco Sour, to find a congenial dining space, tightly packed with woody tables, and wittily decorated. The general air of bonhomie is increased by the feeling that this is clearly a personal, not a corporate, venture, and the impression that the staff are largely friends of el jefe.
The menu consists of more than the eponymous uncooked fish. As instant experts on the subject (thank you, Wikipedia), we learn that ceviche is such a big deal in Peru that it has its own national holiday. As much as we can judge, the country’s Soho outpost makes a good ambassador – the citric element, though generous, complemented rather than overwhelmed the taste of the fish. All dishes come on small plates, and everything else we tried – such as skewered steak, fried cassava with spicy mayonnaise and Peruvian-style ice cream – was very tasty indeed.
As to the rapport prix/qualité, it’s difficult to form a proper impression, never having received a bill. A colleague who followed in our footsteps at dinner time the same day, opined that prices – perhaps a consequence of a menu which is of necessity heavy on the protein front – were on the high side. Given the novelty and the overall high standards of the place, however, she was able to endorse our favourable overall impression.
photo by Paul Winch-Furness