Ceviche restaurant launches and a touch of Lima comes to London

Peruvian is the new Mexican and pisco sour is the new mojito - we get a taste of London’s newest Peruvian restaurant before its 1 March opening

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It’s official, Peruvian cuisine is the new food trend hitting London in 2012.

But forget barbequed llama and rumours about whole baked guinea pigs (my own fuzzy memories of Peruvian cuisine from my days hauling a backpack around South America), aficionados and amateur foodies alike are set to get excited about ceviche, tequenos, yucas and the Peruvian national drink, pisco, with increasing fervour. Andale andale.

For those with more than a passing interest in the emerging trend, your time has come. We reported back in December that Ceviche, a restaurant by chef Martin Morales, would be opening its doors this year and that day has come.

The venue on Soho’s Frith Street will welcome its first Peruvian-loving punters tomorrow, but I was lucky enough to get invited to the launch party on Monday night so I can give you the inside scoop before you try it yourself.

A word of warning before you continue; pisco sours may look fairly innocent with their light fluffy top, but drinking them like water is not without consequence. Ouch.

The restaurant is a vibrant representation of Peruvian culture with bright oranges and turquoises splashed around, big bold Peruvian poster art covers the walls and protruding shelves are adorned with retro glass bottles, vinyl records and colourful pots.

“I have been collecting these things for many years, I often get up at 5am and head down to a local flea market,” Morales tells me when I compliment him on the décor. I wonder if his house feels a touch empty now that his collection is furnishing his business. “Yes - it is!” he laughs.

The restaurant, like Morales, is warm and welcoming. The nostalgic nods make you long for a place you might never have been to. A “hero” wall displays a collection of black and white portraits of which Morales is the curator. I think I spot Frida Kahlo on the wall but I can’t be sure, the place is so full of people I haven’t a chance of getting a closer look.

Word has that as well as becoming Europe’s first official pisco bar and pumping out delicious ceviche to the masses, the restaurant hopes to become the home of Peruvian art, music and culture. It’s already doing a stellar job and it hasn’t officially opened yet.

The pisco bar not only offers a selection of delectable cocktails, there’s also an array of infused piscos on offer. Lemongrass, cinnamon, ginger, chilli, you name it, there’s a pisco to match. I’m definitely returning for a soupçon of eucalyptus pisco. Mmmmm.

The famous ceviche

Source: Paul Winch Furness

The famous ceviche

While coiffing the aforementioned pisco sours, and pisco punchs…and a sneaky pisco martini called Soho, the packed restaurant was treated to a taste of the Ceviche kitchen.

In case you’re not down with Peruvian foodie-lingo, ceviche is generally fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices such as lemon or lime and spiced with chilli peppers - this marinade is sometimes refered to as tiger’s milk.

One of the signature dishes - Alianza Lima - made up of ceviche of the fish of the day, prawns, squid and octopus in rocoto chilli tiger’s milk and giant chocolo corn was handed out by the super friendly and helpful staff.

It was as zingy and delicious as I had hoped, with the seafood soaking up the citrusy spicy flavour of the marinade.

We were also treated to Choros a la Chalaca, (steamed mussels with salsa), tasty and all too brief. Grilled skewers of steak, tender beef heart and chicken followed, all accompanied with super zippy sauces.

Suffice to say the evening left me wanting more. More food, more pisco and more of the Peruvian vibes filtrating through the walls.

Ceviche and its band of cevicheros [chefs] are almost ready, are you?

Causas - potato cakes

Source: Paul Winch Furness

Causas - potato cakes

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