Ceviche Old Street, London

4.11.2015

Ceviche is the national dish of Peru - seafood marinated in lime juice, and naming a restaurant after such famous dish must do it to justice right? This is the second outpost of Martin Morales' wildly popular Ceviche restaurant and pisco bar. Ceviche is one of the foremost Peruvian restaurant to hit London, Peruvian food was barely known in the capital or in UK before that. I mean like few years ago, how often would you hear someone talk about ceviche let alone knowing what it was. The popularity of Peruvian even earned a Michelin star in the case of "Lima".

Housed in the former Alexander Trust Dining Rooms, the home of a Victorian charitable institution that served cheap meals to the working poor, the restaurant is spilt into a 70-seater dining room and a spacious bar. In additional to the restaurant and bar, it also host a modern Peruvian art gallery, showcasing the work of Peru's best contemporary artists; exhibiting paintings, photography, street art and sculpture.

Cancha - crunchy Peruvian corn in rocoto pepper salt

This nibble would have been the perfect snack with a beer, not that we ordered any beer. Cancha, salted crunchy corns were very addictive and it's hard to resist to not nibble on it.

Ostras Pitucas - three rock oysters, amarillo tiger's milk granita, celery, cucumber, limo, coriander

Tiradito Chifa - thingy sliced tuna, pickled daikon, chifa tiger's milk, limo chilli, spring onion, roquito, crispy vermicelli

Don Ceviche - seabass, amarillo chilli tiger's milk, sweet potato, red onions, limo chilli

When in a restaurant that is specialised in Ceviche, it will be very strange not to order it. So we started off with oysters, you can taste the freshness of it but equally enjoyable without the additional garnish which just gives it more of a body. The Tiradito Chifa is a marinated tuna dish with only 5 small pieces and the Asian influence tiger's milk had seemingly over killed the flavour of the tuna. Next is the the signature dish, don ceviche a marinated seabass. Compared to the tuna, there seems to be endless pieces of seabass. It was a tinch overly sour and that hints of chilli was no where to be found. All the seafood was incredibly fresh but it lacked the flavour to make the star of the dish to stand out.

Anticucho Bartola - chicken liver and heart skewered marinated in panca chilli anticucho sauce, grilled new potato

Pulpo Parrillero - octopus, mushroom, potato, coriander, salsa criolla, Botija olive mayo

The meal continued with hot food coming along with different forms of potato involved. The chicken liver and heart skweres was good, with grilled new potato which was more like a mashed potato soaking up the juice and sauce. A vivid lilac colour sauce smothered over the octopus dish, the sauce did not have much taste to it but how often do you see a lilac sauce on food? Octopus was cooked to tender but it didn't excite me beside the colour of the sauce. It had sautéd potato underneath.

Lomo Saltado - flame-cooked beef fillet red onions, tomatoes, saltado sauce, proper chips

Sacha Inchi Greens - green beans, cauliflower flakes, mega Omega 3 Sacha Inchi Amazon oil, lime

The beef fillet was cooked to medium rare, 3 small pieces covered in saltado sauce which is a sauce made from soy sauce and vinegar. The moment I took a bite, I was wondering why it tasted so Asian and that is because it had soy sauce. It's definitely a dish you can have with rice but it came with chips and it was very good when it soaked up the sauce. The beef was not as tender as I hoped and it was a bit dry especially around the edge. The waitress suggested the green beans as a side, this was the least excited dish and fondly it was well seasoned but missing the oomph.

Picarones Old St - pumpkin doughnuts, chancaca honey

There is always room for dessert, especially for the like of doughnuts. This is not the typical type that is bought from the shop. Made with pumpkin, so it is not as fluffy and not as light served with an ice cream. I still prefer a good old jam doughnut given any day.

This is not my first experience with Peruvian cuisine. My expectation was drown when each dish got tasted. The food did not excite me, it's tasty but lacking uniqueness. I went during the soft launch for a lunch time sitting and it was very busy nearly full house. The service was friendly, but not easy to get attention and perhaps can be a lot tidier. I don't know if Morales' other restuarants such as "Andina" have similar vibe, and compared to other Peruvian restaurants this was a big disappointment.

Score Rating: 2.5/5
Price: £30-40/head (50% soft launch, ~£40 for 2 people)

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