Experience cocktails and adventurous fare at Peruvian restaurant Ceviche

London’s bustling Soho is awash with restaurants but the latest newcomer Ceviche is drawing the crowds. As one of the city’s few Peruvian dining spots, this tapas-styled South American eaterie appeals to adventurous tastebuds. William David Wilson drops in to find out what all the fuss is about.

First impressions

Ceviche is tucked away neatly among a plethora of other restaurants and bars on Frith Street, and despite its bold, black frontage, it is fair to say that it will have to rely heavily on its cuisine rather than its exterior to make a lasting impact on new diners. My brother and I were welcomed at the door by a smiling waitress, and then led through the narrow entrance and past the bustling bar section into the seating area at the rear. A very warm summer evening had attracted a lot of people out and about in central London, but Ceviche was certainly busy for a Wednesday night.

Ideal for…

Ceviche salonCeviche's décor is inspired by its South American roots

With a coveted location, Ceviche is perfectly placed to appeal to anyone with a taste for exotic food, so expect theatre-goers, tourists, groups of friends and work colleagues to gravitate here. Though it is not an unattractive proposition for couples (and there were several enjoying their meals and each other whilst we dined there), those looking for a particularly intimate meal with their partner won’t find it in the lively dining area at Ceviche.

Best table?

The restaurant was tastefully designed and reflected its South American inspiration; green panelling, stylish mirrors, monochrome photographs and colourful posters adorned its lightly coloured walls, and numerous ceiling fans whirred overhead to ensure it didn’t get too stuffy. The wooden chairs were not the comfiest however, and the dining area seemed very cramped as the restaurant was busy, but in a way this added to the collective experience. One of the higher elevated tables towards the back of the room may be preferable if you don’t want people walking past you too frequently as you eat, but in truth, this would still be largely unavoidable. You also need to be part of a group of five or six people to secure one of these tables.

The drinks

Throughout the evening, we were served an array of drinks from a variety of different waiters and waitresses, who were all charming and friendly. As well as constantly topping us up with water, we were urged to sample a number of Ceviche’s fine cocktails, and we were only too happy to oblige.

Cocktails CevicheCeviche's cocktails are pricey but irresistible

The first cocktail I tried was the famous pisco sour (£5.50), an authentic Peruvian favourite and it was easy to see why. The drink, made with lime, Pisco Quebranta, Amargo Chuncho bitters, sugar syrup and egg white, fused perfectly to make a truly refreshing and original concoction. My personal favourite though was the Sofía del Mar Punch (at £7.50, one of the most expensive cocktails on the list); a rewarding mix of dark rum, brandy and coconut milk. The cocktails were small and pricey but their flavours and presentations were alluring.

My brother also enjoyed a Cusqueña Premium Peruvian beer, which surprisingly, was the only beer listed on the menu, but it was nice and light nonetheless. There was also a decent selection of red, rosé and white wines.

The food

Don CevicheSample seabass enlivened with chillis and citrus juice

After a warm welcome, our first waiter for the evening – we seemed to have a revolving door of them - speedily brought out the restaurant’s calling card; the Don Ceviche (£6.75) dish from which the restaurant takes its name. However, with neither of us huge fans of raw or cold, cooked fish, it was with some trepidation that we stabbed our fork into the fresh seabass lathered with the flavours of ají amarillo chilli tiger’s milk, ají limo chilli and red onions. It tasted surprisingly good, the cool seabass well augmented by a lively kick from the chillies and the citrus juice it was marinated in. Next up was a small bowl of cancha, a delightfully crunchy and flavoursome Peruvian corn, and a few scrumptious chicken turqueños (wanton fritters filled with chicken or white cheese) that we gleefully covered in the accompanying amarillo mayo. Both made for excellent starters, perfect as we cast our eyes over the main menu.

Whilst discussing the merits of several dishes, a waiter earnestly recommended the corazón, a tender beef heart marinated in ají panca chilli anticucho sauce, served with a modest helping of ají amarillo chilli sauce. It was an excellent recommendation; the grilled, skewered beef was delicious and intensely flavoured. It melted in the mouth, and like several other dishes we tasted, it benefited perfectly from the chillies. The steak was just as good, if not better; it was rare to medium cooked and full of flavour. Our side orders of arrocito rice and the rather odd-looking causa santa rosa (a beetroot salad served on a coriander potato cake) also helped to fill our tummies.

Beetroot salad CevicheEnjoy beetroot salad served on a coriander-infused potato cake

With only four items on the menu, it looked like Ceviche may have got complacent with the desserts, but in truth they were truly delectable. I stumped for the encanelado de pisco (a cinnamon sponge soaked in pisco spirit syrup and supplemented by dulce de leche ice cream) while my brother chose the lúcuma ice cream (made with fresh lúcuma fruit pulp and crumbled alfajores, a typical South American biscuit). Both were delightful and the perfect finish to the evening, and we left Ceviche with our sweet tooth satisfied and a smile on our faces.

Overall, Ceviche proved to be thoroughly enjoyable. Those looking for large portions and low prices may be disappointed but this is Soho after all. If you’re after a novel dining experience amid a lively restaurant, then Ceviche is a great place to spend your evening.


17 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4RG
Tel: (020) 7730 5550.
Website: www.cevicheuk.com
Prices: From £30-40 per head.

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