Harden's survey result
“Still the best Peruvian cuisine in London and still a go-to for a reliable, enjoyable meal out” with “tons of atmosphere” – so say fans of Martin Morales’s “vibrant and fun” Latino cantinas in Soho and Shoreditch, known for their “street-ish dishes with interesting combos” and “lovely pisco sours”. Ratings came off the boil a little this year, though, with the view aired by one or two reporters that “you can get much better ceviche at much better prices elsewhere”.
“The flavours are like being back on Lake Titicaca” – Martin Morales’s Peruvian operation with venues in Soho and Old Street “delivers a gastronomical explosion on the palate”, with “really flavoursome and unusual combinations of ingredients” including “fish like no other”. They “may not have a Michelin star, but can’t be beaten although others try”. Top Tip: pisco sour cocktails.
“Amazing, seriously tasty dishes, with lots of fresh tastes”, and washed down with “perfect Pisco sours” instill high esteem for these “buzzy” (if “rather noisy”) Latino ventures, in Soho and near Old Street.
“Bring your tastebuds alive!”, say fans of the “great food and even better Pisco sours” at these “cool” and “lively-if-noisy” hangouts (“like a holiday in Peru!”), in Soho and near Old Street. But while “interesting, not all dishes are entirely successful”.
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.
Perhaps 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
Last orders: 11.30 pm, Sun 10.15 pm