If you don’t require an egg just because it’s a Saturday, try the mish-mash of Peruvian plates with strong Japanese influences at Señor Ceviche
There’s almost no point rehashing the idea that Peruvian food is on the rise in the UK: it feels like it’s already here to stay. Although it may not be as prevalent as sushi on the high street, specialities such as the Japanese classic’s zingier cousin, ceviche, feel like they’re becoming big players in the restaurant landscape. That’s just one of the many items available on the Señor Ceviche brunch menu, which proves to be a veritable tour of some of Peru’s most famous dishes.
The £39 menu – served Saturday noon until 4pm – is all you can eat (apart from the mains, which are restricted to one per person) and all you can drink, which often feels like more of a challenge than a choice. It is the weekend, though, so mine’s a Peach Bellini, rather than the house white wine or house red that are also on offer. Bear in mind you are given a two-hour time limit, which doesn’t help but add to the gamification of the meal. Luckily, no one is keeping count of the glasses arriving at your table…
Although the menu can seem intimidating to those who might not be accustomed with the cuisine, the staff happily explain any unfamiliar terms. Aji? Basically a spicy salsa. Tiger’s milk? That’s the marinade that cures the ceviche, nothing at all to do with a lactating feline. You get the idea.
We start with a round of the para picar, little snacks to prepare us for what’s to come. Of these, the chifa chicharrones are the pick: slow-cooked pork belly sits on top of a sweet potato purée, mixing smokey flavours with candy sweetness. The crispness of the pork rounds off a wonderful bite. The calamares and tequenos are also delicious, but the shrivelled hot wings less so, even for the most ardent fried-chicken fan.
And the ceviche? It’s good. The house ceviche is superior to the nikkei (the name given to individual members of the Japanese diaspora), with the latter proving a pleasant distraction from the heavier starters but hardly exciting the palate, despite the promise of yuzu tobiko and a langoustine cracker. The aforementioned Señor Ceviche, which the restaurant takes its name from, on the other hand, is an outstanding mix of silky sea bass, slightly firm octopus, avocado, red onion and some more of that delicious sweet potato puree.
In a slightly surprising twist, the ceviche is perhaps the least good (it wouldn’t be fair to say worst) of the items. Come for the ceviche, but what you’re really staying for the starters, sides and particularly the mains. The super pollo, a fantastically grilled chicken thigh dish, was among the highlights. The marinade of rocoto chillies evokes a flavour which is somewhere between South American and Middle Eastern, similar in sourness to a kashk you’d find in Lebanon or Turkey, proving you won’t find only Japanese influences in Peruvian cooking. The slow-cooked lamb shoulder is also exceptionally good. It’s near-impossible to mess up a lamb shoulder, but it’s equally difficult to make one that stands out. The chunks of pineapple add a hint of sweetness which plays well with the slightly gamey flavour of the meat, elevating the dish beyond the sum of its parts.
Señor Ceviche is a brilliant brunch option if you’re bored of the usual choices and you don’t require an egg on every dish you eat, just because it’s a Saturday. You don’t exactly need to go through everything on the menu, but it can prove a good idea, especially if it’s your first foray into the world of Peruvian cuisine, though it almost certainly won’t be your last.
Señor Ceviche; 18 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T; firstname.lastname@example.org; 0207 842 8540; open Monday-Friday 12pm-11pm, Saturday 11am-11pm
Mexican huevos rancheros recipe
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
400g potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 green chilli, sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
4 medium eggs
Boil the potatoes for 6-7 minutes and drain. In a large frying pan gently cook the onion in the olive oil until softened, add the potatoes and continue cooking until the potatoes just start to crisp a little.
Add the paprika, garlic, sweetcorn and chilli and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and bring to a steady simmer. When the potatoes feel tender, season with salt and milled pepper. Make 4 wells in the potato mixture and crack in the eggs, making sure each egg is surrounded. Continue cooking until the egg is cooked but yet the yolk is soft, sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve straight from the pan. Delish served with crisp bread or corn chips.
Recipe from lovepotatoes.co.uk