17 Frith Street, W1D 4RG
Much like Ronnie Scott’s over the road, Ceviche’s plain black exterior is easily missed on the somewhat bleak-by-Soho-standards Frith Street – top and tailed by a Nando’s and Cafe Nero. Stick your nose to the windows though and you’ll be drawn inside by the warm, buzzy bar and Peruvian charm.
The food world predicted South American cuisine would be big this summer – and with the first sniff of spring, the launch of Ceviche has more than delivered. With the Soho restaurant scene crammed with non-reservation, queue-round-the-corner, table-flipping establishments, it’s a welcome relief to relax at a pre-booked table and spend an evening working through the pisco-based cocktail list.
The sharp citrus flavours start with the tiger’s milk marinades in the ceviche menu – a mix of lime, lemon, chilli and onion to ‘cook’ the slivers of raw seabass, octopus and salmon. Pick at nibbles or small plates at the bar—or try a couple as starters in the restaurant. Main sharing dishes range from grilled skewers of rump steak or chilli chicken to a ‘classics’ list featuring Peruvian corn cake and mixed seafood rice with pisco. And then the desserts – oh, the desserts – pumpkin and sweet potato doughnuts with spiced sugar syrup and the extraordinary Lúcuma ice cream with crumbled alfajores. The piquant pisco cocktails compliment the picking platters, and there’s also a good selection of South American wines on offer. The only sticking point is the price – the little dishes quickly add up.
With not a Carmen Miranda-esque pineapple in sight, Ceviche captures a grown-up, pared down South American vibe. Retro prints, tiled walls and intimate high and low tables capture the mi casa es su casa charm Morales has created in this neighbourly restaurant.
After a year of hard, tattooed, streetwise, New York-inspired restaurants sweeping through Soho, it’s a relief to book in a night somewhere warm-blooded with smiling waiters and good food. And anywhere that pumps out pisco is alright with us.