London’s been having a love-in with Peruvian cuisine in the last few years and it’s easy to see why - fresh ingredients, simple, fuss-free, delicious dishes punctuated with punchy fresh flavours; what’s not to love? Soho’s Señor Ceviche is inspired by the founder's travels around Peru, showcasing the diverse flavours and cooking techniques from street food snacks and super fresh ceviches to Peruvian barbecue and healthy salads.
Just stepping across the threshold brings on major holiday envy; it’s got a bit of a street food shack vibe about it, all bright colours, exposed wood, simple furniture, a mish mash of quirky prints and paintings on the walls. I haven’t been to Peru but I imagine it’s a fairly genuine representation of how they'd do things in Lima. It may have opened a couple of years ago, but it’s still packing in the punters. A recent visit on a sunny Tuesday evening saw the windows thrown open to the buzzing throng of Kingly Court and a queue out the door. It’s the perfect setting for eking out those last hazy days of an Indian summer (I’m sure we still have a few to come…).
Don’t think about ordering anything until you’ve had a Pisco Sour, the dream accompaniment to Señor Ceviche’s spectacular menu, though admittedly the Yapa Sandia, with papaya and mango infused Macchu Pisco, lime juice and watermelon was also pretty darn good…
Think simple, fresh, fuss-free, flavours that pack a punch. The menu focuses on key dishes split into para picar (snacks), ceviche and tiradito, Peruvian barbecue, sides & salads and desserts. There may only be 23 items on the whole menu but it's guaranteed you’ll want to come back time and again to try them all.
We hit up the chicharrone de calamar, crispy baby squid with pickled jalapeño mayo, followed by the ‘Clasíco’ ceviche - seam bream with ahi limo tiger’s milk, sweet potato puree, chock corn, red onion, coriander and plantain - alongside the signature ‘Señor Ceviche’ with octopus; both of which could have been four times the size and we still would have eaten the lot.
It would have been rude not to indulge in the BBQ, so out came theft iron y uchucuta;, papaya marinated flat iron steak with uchucuta sauce, though I’m definitely going back to try the nikkei pulp Kombu grilled octopus with nikkei chimichurri and the pachamanca pork ribs - both looked divine. A side salad of tofu, black and white quinoa, edamame and grilled sweetcorn was (somewhat surprisingly for a vegan dish) absolutely delicious - we couldn’t get enough.
A delicious antidote to five-star dining, Señor Ceviche is definitely one for a fast, fun meal with friends - I’ve already booked to go back twice since I visited a few weeks back! If you can’t make it to Lima, make the most of the fact that Lima’s been brought to London.
Our experience overall
Food and drink *****
Staff attentiveness/friendliness *****
I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian – well not anymore any way. I was one for 14 years and I started to eat fish and chicken 16 years ago, because eating out just became too difficult. I would be served bland food all the time that it became easier simply not to dine out. But fast forward to today, and vegan and vegetarian restaurants are popping up everywhere. Raw at La Suite West in West London is one such place and I went along to find out what they plated up for their afternoon tea.
Located on a tranquil street on the edge of Hyde Park, this boutique hotel is the minimalist and latest creation of British designer Anouska Hempel. And leading from this little gem of a place is RAW restaurant. The dark ink-black moody interior and the crisp lines and sculptural forms that characterise the hotel reception extend to the dining area which leads onto a closed garden. We were fortunate to have weather on our side so my friend Mel and I decided to dine al-fresco in the garden encased by meticulously pruned plants, trees and hedges allowing just the right amount of light and privacy.
Taking our seats, we were swiftly offered a glass of alcohol free fizz - the hotel has a non-alcoholic policy to keep in line with its healthy vegan and vegetarian offerings. They also offer a choice of two mocktails as an alternative to the set afternoon tea menu. Sadly, neither the Passion Fruit and Almond mocktail or the Lemon and Lychee mocktail are strictly healthy, as the juices used in them come from concentrate.
Still, as I perused the menu, I realised there was lots of healthy choices that sounded really exciting. The selection of finger sandwiches on offer include Scrambled Tofu, Portobello Mushroom Pate, Lemon and Thyme Tahini with cucumber, Roast Tomato with Sunflower seed Pesto and Avocado chilli Mousse. Which one was my favourite? I honestly couldn’t tell you. They all were really good and I don’t often have that problem. But I can say the gluten free bread I chose was one of the best I have had as they can be so hit and miss.
Moving on to the home-made scones, and I was like a child in a sweet shop. The medium-sized scones came with fresh strawberries and whipped coconut cream and were simply delicious - I devoured all three! When you get a great scone with healthy cream, you need to eat it up as you never know when you get one as good as that again. The cream was so light that it was easy to eat it with a spoon straight out of the bowl.
To say both Mel and I were stuffed after the two courses is an understatement. Alarmingly, we had failed to read that a selection of cakes and desserts were to follow - had I known I wouldn’t have eaten all the scones! So, I asked our attentive waitress to wait while we let our food digest and ordered a jasmine tea in the interim period.
When the second pot of tea helped wash down our food, we decided to take on round two. And so the three lovely dainty cakes arrived in the form of raw carrot cake, a prune tart and a fresh strawberry and coconut cream mousse. I’m pleased to say they were no bigger than a mouthful. But even then they were hard to finish. Did I feel guilty? Not an ounce! After all it’s not often you get served a healthy afternoon tea.
After requiring a temporary Buddha belly, I certainly needed a lie down and I was pleased to have booked a room at the hotel! The stark temple of black and white moved through the corridor of black marble and into our cosy and intimate room. I didn’t move for a good hour as I admired the boudoir from the pillow on my relaxing but firm bed. The thick black wood shutters added depth and a touch of zen to the room. Just what I needed after the meal.
Later on when I managed to peel myself from the bed, I indulged further by taking a bath in the marble bathroom using The White Company products. I slipped into my white fluffy towel and relaxed on the sofa until I was ready for sleep. It was seven hours since I had indulged in the afternoon tea and I still didn’t feel hungry. Now that’s what I call a healthy afternoon tea that was equally value for money. Simply put ‘good for the waist and good for the wallet’.
An afternoon tea for two at the Raw restaurant at La Suite West costs £27 per person. To make a reservation email email@example.com or E: firstname.lastname@example.org.
During my visit I was hosted by La Suite West, 41-51 Inverness Terrace, London W2 3JN. All views and opinions are my own. Pictures courtesy of La Suite West.
The Luggage Room is a decadent 1920s speakeasy inspired cocktail bar located in the London Marriott Hotel near Grosvenor Square in Mayfair.
In true speakeasy style, we had to knock on the door using a statement door knocker (a lion no less), to be granted entry. Once inside, we were amazed to discover the luxurious, intimate cocktail bar that was hidden within.
Seriously sexy and sophisticated, the bar used to be the luggage room of the hotel (hence the name), but it has since been revamped to take on a new lease of life as a gorgeous drinking den. Nods to the bar's earlier heritage are carried throughout the decor, including the luggage inspired wallpaper and the luggage trunks that house the low tea foodie treats.
We were informed that the interior of the hotel was inspired by the The Bentley Boys, a group of wealthy British motorists who drove Bently sports cars to victory in the 1920s, which explains the plethora of supple leather lounge chairs and the masculine detailing that features throughout.
The Low Tea concept
Now we've all heard of afternoon tea and high tea, but if you're like me, you've never heard of low tea. The Duchess of Bedford is credited with having devised the concept of low tea to keep peckishness at bay, serving it as a replacement meal for lunch and helping to stave off the craving for dinner. Low tea was typically served from 1pm- 4pm and was something enjoyed by the upper classes, who used to serve low tea on their best china, with the savoury treats displayed on lower side tables - hence making it low tea. The middle and lower classes would have a more substantial 'high' tea later in the day, at five or six o'clock, instead of dinner on the dinner table, giving it the name high tea.
The food was fabulous and included a wide variety of savoury and sweet treats. Savoury highlights include smoked eel, horseradish and crème fraiche vol au vents, Devonshire wild boar sausage rolls and devilled Balmoral venison and Clarence Court Scotch egg, which had a lovely spiciness to it. Dessert highlights included a Tiptree Tawny Marmalade infused carrot cake, salted caramel meringues and our favourite - the Jam Jar Scone Trifle, which was incredibly fresh..
They take their tea seriously at The Luggage Room, and as they should, it being low tea and all! Our server talked us through a 'tea smelling', during which we delightfully sniffed our way through a wide selection of tea, while learning about the various fragrance and flavour characteristics of each. Apparently, the larger the tea leaf, the more flavour it imparts, which is good advice and will make me think twice before taking the easy option of using pre-packaged tea bags!
Tea? Don't mind if we do...
I selected the 'Speakeasy tea', which was a Heavenly blend of Earl Grey and citrus, and my friend opted for a sweet, Chai tea, both of which were great with the savoury and sweet foods.
The barman was incredibly friendly and very knowledgeable, taking the time to talk us through each of the bespoke cocktails - all of which were divine.
The Low Tea is priced from £48 per person, with supplementary options to enjoy with Champagne and exclusive cocktails.
The Luggage Room
London Marriott Hotel
Situated mere metres from the gates of Battersea Park, the recently refurbished The Prince Albert is the perfect park side pit stop. This royal retreat boasts a menu of classic British fare, such as Young’s ale battered cod, Dingley Dell pork loin chops and a rather delicious looking brunch menu (available 10am - 5pm Monday to Saturday).
The decor is classic London gastropub with a cosy, homely feel; think book lined walls, faux taxidermy, and Farrow & Ball-esque colours. Come winter I’ll undoubtedly be back to curl up with a roast in front of the open fire. We visited on a Tuesday evening and was buzzing and obviously hugely popular with locals. The pub has regular events to keep people entertained, including live acoustic nights and a Monday night pub quiz.
From fish & chips to a killer Sunday roast, The Prince Albert’s menu is just what you’d expect from a London gastro pub.
I started with some delicious fresh charred asparagus served with a poached egg, Isle of Mull cheddar and a dangerously moreish truffle dressing. My friend tried the melt-in-the-mouth, house-cured Severn & Wye salmon with pickled cucumber, Vodka crème fraiche (something we’re going to be recreating at home methinks…) and avocado purée. So far so good - refreshingly light starters to set us up perfectly for the main event.
The chicken Kiev, a succulent butter-filled breast, was utterly divine and was served on a bed of crushed purple potatoes and parsley root purée. Similarly sublime was the grilled Cornish squid, baby monkfish, Suffolk chorizo, samphire, squid ink spelt and cockle popcorn - definitely a dish you want to try. The arrival of a pie at the next table, however, did incite some food envy - there’s a return visit booked in for that one!
Ensure you leave some space for pudding or you’ll regret it. The sticky toffee pudding, with caramelised banana, toffee sauce and cornflake ice cream was to die for.
With an expertly chosen wine list of almost 50 bottles with a range of southern hemisphere bottles and vintages alongside classic European wine as well as a rich selection of bitter, premium and craft beers. We settles on a Rioja blanca at a very reasonable £22.50.
Great vibe, delicious food and the staff were brilliant - attentive, friendly, chatty without being annoying or overbearing. It’s perfectly located for lunch after a stroll round the park, and I’m looking forward to visiting in winter when cosy pub grub like this really comes into its own.
Our experience overall
Food and drink ****
Staff attentiveness/friendliness *****
Restaurants, Bars and food/drink pop ups and reviews
There's nothing more delicious in life than indulging in a sensational meal.