Ceviche – Old St

I had been looking forward to eating at Ceviche for the whole week leading up to my visit. You can imagine my disappointment then, when I arrived and my booking hadn’t been placed in their system, even though I had spent Monday morning on the telephone to a vacuous member of staff finalising my weekend arrangements. Nevertheless, my stomach was yearning for some fresh, clean fishy flavours, so we waited the 40 minutes for a table and saw it is an opportunity to pour over the chef’s menu.

Slightly impaired by numerous pisco sours – an eggwhite based cocktail – and delerious having waited an eternity, we ordered a hearty selection of dishes from the extensive menu. From the ceviche bar, my favourite was the Don ceviche; delicate slithers of seabass swam in amarillo chilli tigers milk and were topped with red onion, limo chilli and a sweet potato crisp. The flavours were simple and the citrus cooked fish stole the limelight in this particular dish. Contrastingly, in the Tiradito de Conchas, the typically delicate diver’s scallops were masked by the strong flavours of the blood orange, the yoghurt and the caviar. I missed the purity of their traditional, simple presentation.

From the grill, we ordered the Pulpo al Olivocitrus marinated octopus, Botija olive sauce and lentil uchucuta sauce. As with scallops, octopus tastes best when unadorned with frills. Martin Morales, Ceviche’s head chef, agrees with my theory. The octopus was at the centre of this dish, each tentacle was soft and no furious chewing was required. Simplicity at its finest.

When you go to Ceviche, it would be outrageous not to order Lomo Saltado – rare-cooked beef fillet, red onion, tomato, saltado sauce and thick-cut chips. The steak was wonderfully cooked, it danced with flavour and the sauce only enhanced the experience, I let the chips sit and soak it up before scoffing them at the end. Rich and thoroughly appetising, you’d be a fool to miss this excellent plate.

Unimpressive in comparison to the beef was the Seco de Pato – coriander and dark beer cooked duck. At a glance this sounds delicious, but when it arrived it was tepid and chewy. Duck is difficult to get right and although this breast was well cooked to a perfect pink, it was as tough as old boots.

I really like Ceviche, the atmosphere is welcoming and fun, there is a real sense of relaxed South American charm, the service is jovial yet serious and there are some gems hidden on the menu. Upon reflection, I wish I had ordered slightly differently but what use is the power of hind-sight? Give Ceviche a try, but do make sure to book, and then book again. Just to be sure.

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