It was Friday night after a never-ending week, Mister was 30mins late, I’ve been crushed and bruised on the tube – ‘happy’ was a myth on a remote island to me. To add salt to my wounds, Ceviche was booked up.
The host gave us two options: wait till 9:30pm when the restaurant frees up; queue for the bar seats. Seeing it was 7pm we opted for the latter. It wasn’t too bad a wait, though it wasn’t the most comfortable dining environment. To get things back on the right track, we started with a couple of cocktails. My Superchaco was super easy to drink, dominated by papaya juice and mild lemongrass fragrance, gentle on the alcohol with just a splash of ginger ale – exotic. Mister’s Pisco Sour was pretty with a foam dome but much stronger with a bitter aftertaste.
Wanton fritters filled with white cheese and aji amarillo chilli with rocoto mayo dip
I was expecting melted cheese oozing from a crispy shell... but this was actually a thin layer of cheese smeared in a wrapped wanton sheet. Texture was interesting; the crispy sheet became slightly chewy and stretchy as opposed to the usual crunch and crumble. A bit hollow on its own, but together with the mild heat from the mayo dip, this made a great snack.
Ceviche of seabass, prawns, squid and octopus in rocoto chill,i tiger’s milk and giant choclo corn
Tiger’s milk is a lime juice-base marinade, and yes, I want know what real tiger’s milk tastes like too. Thick slices of seabass were given a brilliant kick by the lime marinade, bringing out its subtle flavours; squid and octopus chunks were full of bounce and juice, perhaps not as sweet as they could be with the tangy sauce, but this was refreshing and tastebuds awakening.
Tiradito of thinly sliced salmon in Nikkei tiger’s milk made with satsumas, mirin, soy sauce and aji limo chilli
This was my favourite of the evening, simply because salmon is such a rich and oily fish, definitely at its best raw. The marinade wasn’t dissimilar to yuzu dressing; it had the same fruity citrus, probably more acidity too. Like Alianza Lima upstairs, no hint of chilli heat, just chilling coolness.
Squid, prawns, avocado on a smooth cool Peruvian potato cake with Huancaina sauce
I saw the couple next door with a green version too. This salad brought out the gooey side of squid, gelled with ripen creamy avocado chunks and smooth mash. Fresh and delicious.
Frito mixto of prawns, squid and fish with salsa criolla and rocoto mayo
This was basically a deep-fried version of the Alianza Lima above, but much less exciting. I think the major flaw was in the batter, which was more like soggy breadcrumbs. So instead of coating the silky fish, crunchy prawns and squidgy squids with a brittle crust, it just added a coarse greasiness to them. The octopus tentacles reminded me of the childhood snacks we used to get in HK though. In my opinion, Yalla Yalla does it a lot better.
We didn’t order another round of food after the ceviche and nibbles, mainly because eating at the bar was a little awkward. We could just about cramp all the dishes in the limited space we had without eating from our laps, and people kept leaning over for their drinks we had to constantly dodge cocktails flying above our heads. Given we only sampled one section of the menu, it did feel like we were having the same foods presented to us in 3 different ways: raw, with mayo, and deep-fried.
That said, I walked out of Ceviche feeling, wow, that was different. The dishes were light with clean, refreshing flavours dressed with a citrusy punch, just in time to lift us from the summer heat to come.
17 Frith Street
Tel: 0207 292 2040