Two weeks ago I was treated, along with a small number of other food, lifestyle and travel bloggers, to a fabulous evening at Señor Ceviche in Kingly Court, located just off Carnaby Street, near Oxford Circus.
The event was a collaboration between both Seńor Ceviche and Liberty Wines, the restaurant’s sommelier and wine provider. We were guided through a set menu of delicious dishes uniquely paired with fantastic wines to compliment.
If you’re not familiar with Peruvian food, now is the time to jump on board of this food bandwagon. And Senor Ceviche in Kingly Court has quickly become the home of Peruvian food in London.
To be honest I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Peru has long been a dream destination of mine but not necessarily for its food. In fact until last week I was pretty sure that the signature dish of Peruvian cuisine was fried Guinee Pig. Cliché, I know.
Distinctive due to its refreshing citrus flavours and abundance of fresh fish dishes, including the classic dish ceviche, Peruvian food is perfect for those who like a fresh hit of spice with a classic pisco sour or two.
If you don’t know Kingly Court in Soho, you’d be forgiven for not realising it’s there.
Take a stroll down Carnaby Street and look out for a rather glittery alleyway, tucked away between the buildings. Fronting onto Ganton Street to the North, Carnaby Street to the East, Beak Street to the South and Kingly Street to the West, this tiny enclave has become a bustling food hub with over twenty restaurants, bars and cafes crammed into its small area.
With a courtyard outdoor seating area and fantastic restaurants spread over three floors, it’s a must-see for anyone who loves eating out.
In fact, Kingly Court is fast becoming a foodie Mecca and one of the coolest places to grab a bite in central London. This comes as no surprise really since this little courtyard is packed to the rafters with talented food slingers. Alongside a whole bunch of others you’ll find the guys from Pizza Pilgrims, Rum Kitchen, Wright Brothers and the new kid on the blog; Señor Ceviche.
Senor Ceviche is the brainchild of Harry Edmeades who launched the restaurant just over a year ago. It started as a ridiculously popular Peruvian pop-up but has recently found a permanent home in Kingly Court.
Here, the 25-year-old owner, Harry Edmeades has crafted a sanctuary of Peruvian flavours and planted them right in the middle of Soho. Both the food and interior layout aim to transmit the vibe of Barranco, an increasingly bohemian district of Lima that is home to artists, musicians and designers and full of charming boutiques and lively restaurants and bars.
INTERIOR AND ATMOSPHERE
I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere and the unashamedly bold and brash interior décor – with its bright flashy graffiti walls, fluorescent posters and vivid tiles. Senor Ceviche is as charming as it is electric and pushes your whittled central city mindset into a place far from here.
At the front of the restaurant, big windows open onto the central courtyard of Kingly Court and your mind is immediately transported to an open front bar in some tropical destination.
At the back of the room is the open kitchen and bar. I must admit I always enjoy watching the preparation of my food.
The industrial-style ceiling has been left uncovered, as is increasingly common these days, and is hung with colourful fluorescent light bulbs.
The vibe of the restaurant is relaxed, with upbeat music playing, which is just loud enough so that you can still enjoy a friendly chat with your friends while you eat.
The decor element, teamed with the friendly staff and upbeat music transports you to Lima, without feeling like you’re in some novelty bar that’s trying too hard. Although I haven’t been to Peru myself, it does feel very authentic and homely. Every little detail has been thought through and is telling of how much passion has gone into the restaurant.
CHAMPAGNE AND INTRODUCTIONS
On arrival, we were greeted with a beautiful NV Grande Reserve Champagne, from Devaux, France and were able to mingle with the manager of Seńor Ceviche and a sommelier from Liberty Wines.The champagne was sweet, easy to drink and surprisingly didn’t make me tipsy. Introductions were made and it was a great opportunity to learn more about the history of both companies and the amazing amount of love and attention that goes into both the food and drink.
PORK BELLY AND QUINOA CROQUETTAS STARTERS
For starters, we tried a quartet of Quinoa and Cheddar Croquettas (5£) with a pineapple salsa. These dangerously moreish and bite-sized croquettes were unlike anything I have tried before. The quinoa adds an incredible texture that you just can’t achieve with breadcrumbs.
We were also served Chifa Chicharranoes (6£), glorious cubes of slow cooked, crispy pork belly with sweet soy sauce. I don’t think the description or even the images, do this dish justice because it was quite simply incredible. This was insanely good and the standout dish of the evening. The sweet soy glaze and the melt-in-the-mouth, slow cooked pork complimented one another amazingly. Sweet and slightly tangy, I definitely polished off far too many of these. At that moment, I also promised myself to return to Senor Ceviche in the near future, purely based on this dish. Gary would certainly approve.
TWO WHITE WINES
Throughout the evening, we were given the opportunity to try a selection of different white and red wines to see which ones we personally preferred with a brief introduction to their origin, producer, the concept behind them and how they were made. Having lived in France for half of my life and having visited many vineyards along the way, this event was perfect for me!
To accompany the starters we tried two different white wines. The Vermentino IGP Pays d’Oc, from Les Vignes de L’Eglise in France was clean and bright, with aromas of vibrant fresh fruit such as peach, mango, pineapple and pear.
The Picpoul de Pinet Coteaux du Languedoc, from Baron de Badassière, France, was youthful, dry and acidic with a nose of lemon and lime fruit and an intriguing blend of white blossom, green apple and green herb notes. It complimented the pork belly perfectly cutting through the flavours of this heavy dish.
TWO CEVICHES – SENOR CEVICHE’S SPECIALITY
Next we moved on to the ceviche, which I’d never actually tried before. Ceviche is a (traditionally) seafood-based dish that generally features raw fish cured in citrus juice and spices. Our host, unsurprisingly, drew similarities to Japanese cuisine. We were served two different types.
The house special Señor Ceviche (9£) is made with super soft chunks of sea bream, octopus, aji amarillo tiger’s milk, sweet potato puree, avocado, coriander, red onion and crispy tempura baby squid.
Tiger’s milk is the Peruvian term for the citrus-based marinade that cures the seafood and is generally a tasty combination of lime juice, sliced onion, chilis and a bit of fish sauce. Believe it or not in Peru, this invigorating potion is served alongside ceviche in a small glass and is said to be both a hangover cure and an aphrodisiac.
The ceviche was beautifully prepared and we were advised that Senor Ceviche only use the freshest of fish. But what truly set this dish apart from the others on the menu was the delicate and oh so crunchy tempura baby squid.
The second ceviche we tried was called The Spaniard (8£). It contains sea bream and king prawns, with tomato, red onion, coriander, plantain and crispy chorizo. The chorizo lends the dish a nice kick, while the tomato really compliments the fresh fish. Only order this dish however, if raw fish doesn’t scare you.
The flavours of both ceviches were so intense and the textures were playful to the palate. Tangy, fresh, crunchy, tender, explosive…these ceviches had it all!
To cleanse our palette between courses and wine, we were served a round of pisco sours – Pisco, egg white, lime juice, gomme syrup and chuncho bitters. This short drink is both refreshing and tongue-tingling, the flavour of the Pisco (a pale brandy made by distilling wine) is subtle compared to the lime and bitters, whilst the egg white gives it that light fluffy texture. The perfect drink that’s bold enough to hold its own against all the weighty dishes that followed.
A PERUVIAN BARBECUE
Things get a touch heavier and more primal in the grilled meat section of the menu. Our main course of the evening was a Peruvian barbecue.
Here we were given the amazing opportunity to try Anticucho de Res (7£), two skewers of thinly cut and folded beef heart grilled and served with a crunchy red salad, a vivid sweet potato mayonnaise and a little tapenade-like pile of olives, aji panca (chilli pepper) and mint. The beef heart is smoky from the grill, delicately cooked, pleasingly rich and with a mere hint of offal flavour. The dish has just the right amount of give and glossy fattiness to make it far too easy to finish.
We also tried the Anticucho de Pollo (7£), an incredible grilled chicken thigh dish that had been marinated in mix of spices (aji rocotto) and was served with a piquillo pepper salsa. Tender and delicious, this dish was packed with flavour and the chicken was grilled to perfection.
My favourite barbecue dish however was the Flat Iron Y Uchucuta (9£), a thinly sliced papaya marinated flat iron steak. The steak was perfectly pink in the middle and served with a fiery aji rocotto anticucho sauce. I could easily have eaten another plateful.
To supplement this feast of meat, we were served Quinoa Soltero, a quinoa, edamame, grilled sweetcorn, tofu and coriander salad. This fresh explosion of flavours was very welcome and complimented the selection of barbecue meat perfectly.
TWO RED WINES
To accompany the barbecue dishes we drank two different red wines.
The cabernet merlot from Calbuco, Chile is a very dark, almost purple wine with sot and juicy aromas of black fruits, cassis, plum and blueberry. Medium-bodied and fresh with a lasting, fruit driven finish, this is the perfect wine to drink with the Anticucho de Pollo.
The Beaujolias-Villages, Domaine De Gry-Sablone from Beaujalais, France, Clear is clear ruby in the glass with delicate cherry perfumes. The rounded palate is full of fresh red berry fruit. Elegant, well balanced with good acidity, is the perfect wine to compliment the flat iron steak.
DULCE DE LECHE FOR DESSERT
Anyone would have thought consuming that much food would mean there’s no room for dessert. Fortunately I just about had room for dessert, not that I knew what Peruvian puddings where like.
We were served the Dulce de Leche (4£), a gorgeously milky ice-cream with a hot caramel sauce. To die for!
WOULD I RETURN TO SENOR CEVICHE?
I had a lovely evening. Such a fun event! What better way to spend a Monday evening than with good food, good wine and great company?
I would highly recommend Señor Ceviche to anyone looking for somewhere to eat in central London. The food was fantastic, the staff really looked after us and the atmosphere was lively and vibrant.
It can get extremely busy though as it is a relatively small space. So I would suggest that you plan your meal in advance and book a table, especially if you’re wanting an evening meal at the weekend. Or pop by early during the week, you might just be able to wing it, especially if you avoid the weekday lunch.
If you’re in the area, or even if you’re not, then head on over! Senor Ceviche definitely feels like a hidden gem, despite its central location and popularity. And did I mention, Peruvian food is incredible!
Finally, I would like to thank both Señor Ceviche and Liberty Wines for their hospitality.
Disclaimer: I attended as a guest of Senor Ceviche, nonetheless the opinions contained within this article are my own and were not in any way influenced by the hospitality.