My limited knowledge of Peruvian food derived via Nobu, and I became utterly intrigued by a “tiger’s milk” marinate printed on the menu of Ceviche, a little charming Peruvian bar/restaurant in Soho. Was it “tiger’s milk”, or literally, tiger’s milk? Can we milk a tiger? What would animal right activists say to this? It sounds wrong – dangerous – I wouldn’t dare milk my cat. Luckily, the cross-cultural fumble was explained away that “tiger’s milk” was indeed just a marinate of fish juice, lime, onion, chilli and salt. No milk or tiger was involved. *relieved*
Ceviche is the new small-plate upstart to make its way into Frith Street’s swanky restaurant scene. At the entrance, I walked through a slick Pisco bar where I could also perch and eat. The dining room boast a wooden glow from the mix-and-match of high and low tables; teplicas of vintage posters on the off-white walls added a vibrant rush of colours; the FOH was immaculately dolled up in Levi and Van; the music was thumping. Effortless. I loved it already.
The kitchen at here specialised in ceviche (pronounced “seh-bi-cheh”), a cold dish of raw fish or seafood with zingy citric marinate. There were about 7 different variations on the menu. The other half of the menu was dedicated to salad and hot dishes. All was served in a tapas portion. The price was roughly at £6-7 per dish and the most expensive did not soar above £12.50. You are advised to order around 3-4 dishes each, which with a drink, should come to just £35 per person per meal. Sakura Maru (£6.25) – a salmon ceviche – was ambiguously Japanese. I liked the fresh slices of salmon and the crunchy salad but felt the sweetness from mirin (Japanese sweet wine) dominated the subtler citric satsuma and the aji limo chilli heat. Alianza Lima (£7.50) – prawns, squid, octopus and fish of the day – was far more superior. Big tangs from tiger’s milk bedazzled by rocoto chilli punch. The marinate changed the texture of the seafood mix excellently, while the gigantic corn kernels gave chalky sweetness to the dish. I did not heart the beef heart (here billed as Corazon at £6.25). Despite its being nicely prepared – distinct charcoal scent, tenderised texture – I found the accompanying aji amarillo chilli sauce lacking dimensions. The sauce – ideally similar to a loose spicy, zingy mayo – was only piquant and would do better with more acidity. Choclo Cake (£4.50) was a pleasant corn cake and would have been perfect if the portion had been enlarged. Here the crumble-y mix of feta and corn worked together nicely but it lacked fluffiness that would make the dish oh-so-wicked. Jalea (£11.50) was pretty much a fritto misto with salsa criolla (AKA a lot of red onions). Nothing was wrong with it. No greasy taste. But nothing was exciting about it either. Ensalada de Quinoa (£3.75) was, for me, the best dish of the meal and the best quinoa I’ve ever eaten. I loved multiple textures from tickling quinoa to crunchy shallots and dense butter beans, all complimented by the hot vinaigrette burst and the perfumed coriander. I also found joy in Arroz con Pato (£12.50) but more because the dark beer rice with salsa criolla tasted remotely like a westernized Thai green curry. A bit of creaminess and a slap of herbal chilli. The confit duck was cooked to tenderness with coriander and crisp-ed up. That said, I was not over the moon when both elements were paired. And I finished with Lucuma ice cream (£5.75). It was made from lucuma pulp and shared a taste of maple syrup and sweet potato. SOOoooo good! I doubled my order as I didn’t want to share it with my dining companions. They are amazing and all that but when it comes to things I love sharing is a definite no-no
So.. I really liked Ceviche – exciting menu, exotic flavours, greatly relaxed ambiance – and will be back in no time ^_^
GO FOR: Cozy latino buzz. Light vibrant tapas. Exciting stuff.
17 Frith Street
Tel. 020 7292 2040