New Peruvian cevicheria hits the spot well

17 Frith St, W1D 4RG, 020 7292 2040
FOOD ****
Cost per person without booze: £25

SOUTH American madness continues apace over on Frith Street, with the really rather excellent Peruvian bar and restaurant Ceviche which – along with an increasing number of restaurants in London – features that most delicious of poor man’s sushi. Ceviche does it really well, though: the flavours are clean and punchy, the fish silky and generously portioned, and the prices very, very right. In fact, everything’s under £10, including steak and chicken dishes.

The brainchild of Peruvian restaurateur Martin Morales, Ceviche has another trick up its sleeve: pisco. It takes this iconic Peruvian cocktail, made with pisco (grape brandy) and blended with egg white, bitters, lemon and sugar, and runs with it. The Pisco Sour is a great drink: tart and frothy and – in my view – better than a margarita. The one here is delicious. But then, so are the half-dozen or so other spin-offs. Probably the best of these is the purple Chicha Sour, with purple maize-infused pisco. I had three. The Soho is also excellent: chilli-infused pisco with cucumber, lime, egg white and cracked black pepper, served in a martini glass. Best of all, the cocktails are between £5.50 and £7.50. Oh-so-reasonable (though dangerous).

One of the delights of Ceviche is that you can be on a diet and still enjoy. So many of Soho’s other hot tickets are all about fat: burgers, bbq, American diner-style naughtiness. Stick to the cleansing Don Ceviche (seabass ceviche with “tiger’s milk”, ie leftover ceviche marinade; lemon and chilli); the Sakura Maru: salmon with satsumas, mirin, soy sauce and chilli; and a couple of others (we also loved the button mushroom and squash ceviche) and you’ll bounce out feeling virtuous. Of course, then you’d be missing the utterly scrumptious Peruvian corn cake with feta and the Lomo Saltado: wok-cooked striploin beef with onions, tomato, chilli, saltado sauce (a mixture of coriander, chilli, lemon juice, oil and other things) and chips.

Staff are lovely, too: the bright-eyed Alejandro in particular is a cutie, and looked after us amazingly well on two visits. We need more places like this. Oh, and unlike so many other Soho newbies, you can actually book a table here.