Posts Tagged ‘peruvian restaurants in Europe’

Cuisine: Peruvian

Visit: March 2013

Price: High

From Lima through LA, Buenos Aires to London, Peruvian cuisine became trendy over the past couple of years. My trip to Peru last year confirmed that this South American country has tremendous potential on the global culinary scene. With thousands of diverse ingredients this is the land of plenty that most creative chefs dream of exploring. It is one thing though to get a plate of potatoes or raw fish ceviche on a local market in Lima, and getting the same freshness and a more sellable look on the plates of distinguished diners with deep pockets in the world’s top cities. I have tried peruvian cuisine in many cities outside Peru in the past year and none had achieved, what the recently opened Coya in London’s Mayfair did – creating authentic, high-quality menu with the right level of experimental spirit.

Coya members bar

Coya members bar

Atmosphere: It is dark, with a great vibe created by the almost night-clubby music/cocktail bar you have to pass right after descending into the underground of the secretive entrance in one of the buildings lining up along Picadilly and the nearby St James Park. The bar is fun and there are some tables you can reserve and have a bite with your pisco sour or some other cocktail from the seductive bar list. Currently it is quite hard to get reservation at the restaurant since it became the hottest place to eat at in the city, but if you do not mind eating late just come around 10pm and wait at the bar until a table frees up. At the restaurant you can sit along the ceviche bar behind which the chefs slice and dice some of the cold dishes.

Coya ceviche counter and restaurant

Coya ceviche counter and restaurant

There is also Open Charcoal Grill where the warm meats and seafood are being prepared. This open-kitchen concept is not a novelty but increasingly the interior design choice of most of the new restaurants worldwide. Most diners seem to like the fact that the preparation of their dishes is open to scrutiny of the demanding customers and also it makes it more of an interesting dining experience rather just to stare at one’s plate and people around. At Coya the attentive, super-friendly effective yet casual waiting staff just perfectly rounds up the exciting atmosphere of the place. I was surprised how quickly most of the dishes arrived considering the fact that the restaurant was packed until late hours.

Anticuchos de corazon (beef heart skewers)

Anticuchos de corazon (beef heart skewers)

Food: Authentic as well as innovative using mostly peruvian ingredients in new dishes. You must try one of the signature tiraditos (the Salmon is great) and ceviches from the starters. Ideally ask the staff as they advised us very well on which is the most popular as well as which of them might be better on that concrete day. The with the skin roasted potatoes Patatas Bravas with rich Huancaina (mayonnaise-based) sauce are naughty but really tasty and its heaviness almost disappears if you sip it with a bolder wine such as the full-bodied Argentinian Malbec, the tannic Tannat, the paprika-spicy Chilean Carmenére or for the adventurous of you (as we did) the powerful Petit Verdot. These wines go well with the meat dishes too. The juicy and fatty Spicy grilled beef fillet was tamed by the rich Petit Verdot from the Chilean producer Von Siebenthal.

Salmon Titadito

Salmon Titadito

Do not miss the deserts as it is the sweet selection that shows the most innovation. From Corn Sundae, Lucuma Bavarois to Sweet Potato Ice Cream, you probably have never had none of these combinations. I am curious how many chefs are going to copy these recipes. I have indulged in the Sweet Potato Ice Cream served on the side with Burnt Chocolate Crumble.

Sweet Potato Ice Cream with chocolate crumble

Sweet Potato Ice Cream with chocolate crumble

The fact that Peru has over 3.000 types of potatoes and corn is unbelievable for most people, yet it stirs one’s interest in trying various dishes prepared from these two multifaceted ingredients. The Sweet Potato Ice Cream was deliciously creamy with tremendous depth underlined by the exotic spices, dried fruit and cocoa powder. Peru is also one of the major cocoa producers and I must admit I have a crush on the single origin chocolates from this country. The Burnt Chocolate Crumble was genuine, rather in a raw character where the cocoa stood out and other ingredients such as sugar or vanilla commonly used in chocolate bars and truffles were not overshadowing the beautiful richness of this antioxidant-rich delicacy. The current dessert menu offers many of the Peru’s super-foods such as Lucuma (Vitamin C rich fruit) or Quinoa (great gluten-free source of proteins) so it can make you feel less guilty about finishing your dinner with one of them.

Toknar 2007- 100% Petit Verdot

Toknar 2007- 100% Petit Verdot

Drinks: We went for the adventurous 100% Petit Verdot from Vina Von Siebenthal in Chile’s Acocangua Valley. Petit Verdot is a very tannic and robust grape varietal usually used in a small volume in blends (red Bordeaux wines are the most famous). Yet as with most of grape varietals they show differently in a different terroir. Malbec and Tannat are both good examples. Malbec in Argentina is much more fruity and round than in France, the same applies to Tannat in Uruguay and Brazil where its harsh tannins are balanced by its juicy fruity character. Tannat in South-West French region of Cahors is rarely drinkable on its own and is blended. The Toknar 2007 from Chile has higher alcohol (14.5%on the bottle), but you could not detect it much on the palate. The depth expressing rich concentrated dark fruits with chocolate, caramel and nutmeg might be too much for some wine drinkers, although perhaps not for the Parker-like palates loving concentration. Fatty meal such as the grilled beef we had befriended this wine, yet the fish and seafood dishes were practically not possible to match. Pisco Sour is marvellous with ceviche as well as most of the tiraditos, so if you are starting with this grape-spirit-based cocktail save it for these fishy starters.

Opening hours: Mon- Sat: Lunch: 12:00–14:45, dinner: 18:00–22:45;

Pisco bar: Monday to Saturday 12:00 pm – 1:00 am.

Address: 118 Picadilly, Mayfair, London, W1J 7NW, UK

Contact: Tel: +(44) 0 20 7042 7118; email: nico@coyarestaurant.com


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Cuisine: Peruvian, peruvian tapas style

Visit: May 2012

Potato Causa with beetroot

Peruvian cuisine is a big hit worldwide this year. With the world’s top chefs, including Ferran Adria (El Bulli in Spain), flying over there in search for inspiration and new ingredients, the news spread across the globe quickly. Now you find peru-influenced restaurants almost anywhere outside Latin America from Los Angeles and New York to European capitals including London. I have been to Peru and dined on incredible local dishes so I am a harsh critic when it comes to tasting this food elsewhere in the world. They do a pretty good job in Santiago de Chile, yet as one gets further away such as to LA, the authenticity and quality tends to deteriorate. It is seductive for the chefs to devise over-complex dishes, yet the peruvian cuisine is elaborate enough, so any even the slightest retouch of the dishes can spoil everything. Using high quality and authentic ingredients also makes a difference. Peru has over 3.000 types of potatoes and you cannot just use any one kind to make a causa, the traditional potato dish. The London’s ceviche though is serious about its endeavor. No wonder, since most of its staff comes from Peru and they are proud of their heritage.

Peruvian chef preparing food

Price: medium to low for central London; medium to high for elsewhere.

Atmosphere: Vibrant, young and refreshing. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful in explaining everything about your dish. You can sit right at the bar on your right side as you enter Ceviche. From here you can watch the chef with his aides preparing colorful peruvian dishes in the speed of a 100 metres world champion runner. The demands are high as the place is currently extremely popular and the nature of tapas – smaller portions so people order more than two or three dishes – creates the buzzing atmosphere. If you prefer low chairs and sitting at your own table you walk further back and sit in a cosy room full of mirrors and after 7 pm of eager diners. Below I took the picture of the room around 6pm, so early for the dinner rush hour in London.

Ceviche tables at the back

Food: Authentic in a fashionable wrap. The dishes are arranged attractively on the plates, but do not be confused, they still taste as they would in Peru! Using quinoa, potatoes, corn, onion, seafood and meat is crucial in peruvian cooking. The only think I missed was the bony and delicate guinea pig, so popular in Cuzco where all the tourists acclimatize themselves before they take off to Machu Pichu. I did not miss the surgical work inseparable from eating this tiny animal. It is a delicacy though we will not probably savor in Europe any time soon. My favorite, and now a trendy superfood, was the Quinoa salad. I can eat it day and night, on its own or with poultry, fish, seafood or even meat for its refreshing properties. Delicate quinoa paired with crunchy onions, melting avocado and mango sauce is an exotic and unique dish. I recommend starting with it.

Quinoa salad

Or you can start with ceviche, Peru’s most famous food invention. Raw fish diced in cubes, tigre di leche sauce with lemon reduction taking off the fishyness from the meal, ever-present onions and sometimes corn, mushrooms and sweet potatoes such as at Ceviches’ “Ceviche del dia” version. Nice ceviche, but this one I get better in Peru, maybe because the fish is different.

Ceviche del dia

From here you can move to something heavier. A vegetarian option, and a very tasty one, is Potato Causa with beetroot. Causa is made of a bed of mashed sweet potatoes on which a wide variety of ingredients are piled up. Avocado mash, creamy red beet chop topped with a crisp platano (big, not sweet banana used in American cooking) chip call for a glass of wine to help you digest this rich tower of ingredients. Something with higher acidity such as Sauvignon Blanc will do the job.

Chicken skewer with chicharon (corn)

Meat aficionados will devour the antichuhos – marinated meat skewers. From chicken to beef hearts and livers, the peruvians jab through everything on the stick. It may sound horrific, but it tastes good. The antichuchos are served with a corn knob and usually a slightly spicy or creamy sauce. The chicken skewers at Ceviche were juicy and supple.

Drinks: The wine list is short but suitable for the dishes. From lighter wines to more concentrated reds and sweet wines. There are lots of Chilean wines but also some from Argentina. We are at a peruvian eatery though , so pisco, the grape spirit is a must! At Ceviche they make a wide variety of seductive cocktails based on pisco, but I am devotee of pisco sour – pisco with lime juice, sugar or sirup and egg white – so I had to get one. It was excellent! Even though I am a wine buff, next time I would drink pisco sour with peruvian food instead.

Wine list

Opening Hours & contact: Monday to Saturday: 12pm till 11:30pm; Sunday: 12 noon til 10:15pm; Phone: +(44) 020 72922040

Address: 17 Frith Street, London, W1D 4RG

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