164 Essex Road
I am late to the party, but there has been a sudden appearance of Peruvian restaurants in London. One opened up just down the street from where I live, so J and I arranged to meet up there to give it a try. She has a Taste Card which entitled us to 50% off, making the meal a bargain. Of course we had to start with Pisco Sours - one traditional and one with the addition of algarrobina syrup (apparently made from some kind of desert fruit). They were refreshing but quite sweet - I'll need to try some more before I determine whether or not a Pisco Sour is better for after dinner rather than before.
Onwards to the starters - Anticuchos de Corazon de res (beef heart skewers) and Cebiche de pescado (marinated fish). While I love all weird cuts of meat, I have to say I preferred the cebiche as it was lighter and easier to eat more of. J went for additional seafood in her main - the Picante de mariscos which is described as fresh seafood cooked in a sauce of aji panca, aji Amarillo & fish stock served with steamed white rice and fried potato medallions. It was tangy and fresh and a good counterpoint to my very rich main, the Chicharrones de cerdo con chifles de camote frito y salsa criolla, which was basically deep fried slices of pork belly. Thankfully I adore pork belly, and managed to finish the plate which is pretty amazing given that the pieces of pork were enormous. We were stuffed but couldn't resist a traditional Peruvian dessert, Suspiro a la limeña, which is made of sweet milk and caramel topped with soft meringue. I'm not much of a sweets person and this was way too sugary for me, though of course as we sat there chatting, we found ourselves dipping our spoons in, even though each bite made me grimace a bit with the tooth-shocking sweetness.
Atmosphere is not the strong point here, but the food was tasty enough (and interesting enough) for me to go back - I'd say, based on what we had, that the seafood dishes are their strengths, and I'd skip dessert next time.