Zoë Perrett finds a little piece of Peru in London’s Soho – and likes it very much
You know that thing where your dear friend has just given birth and you’re hoping against hope the baby’s cute so you don’t have to feign affection? The same scenario is true of lovely chefs and their new restaurants. You want to be enamoured, but it aint always easy.
Thankfully, my nose grows not a millimetre when the irrepressible Martin Morales bounds over like a proud parent to ask my opinion of Casita Andina. Because I fell in love instantly and completely.
In the 200 year-old property once known as ‘The Little Cottage’, Casita Andina has found a home actual and spiritual. The restaurant could have occupied the wonderfully-wonky
three-story house since time immemorial – it feels like Martin and co. have moved in, happily slapped punchy pink and turquoise and yellow paint around, and littered the place with travel knick knacks. It’s a petit Peru on Soho’s fringes.
The drinks list twists your imagination and tastebuds: all pisco-based reworkings of classic cocktails and teas whose recipes sound like an apothecary’s shopping list. The nicely concise menu – inspired by the Andes’ family-run picanterias and the area’s women (the titular ‘Andinas’) – features just as many esoteric Peruvian ingredients.
Although it’s not made into A Thing, gluten is naturally absent. But it’s worth noting, because it means you can eat a little more and feel a little less full. For us, that means rich bits – deep-fried (and delicious) avocado chunks; pork and liver croquettes – juxtaposed with fresher flavours: a watermelon, black quinoa and salty cheese salad, and the most beautiful trout tiradito I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Ají de gallina is Casita Andina’s reworking of a Peruvian classic of chicken in yellow chilli sauce. Crisp-skinned, rare lamb loin slices sit on an Andean herb puree; more of that animal appears in a rib-sticking, soul-satisfying dish of dark beer-sauced sweetbreads. It’s a pretty procession, and one that’s pretty darn tasty.
For pudding, strawberry and avocado pot is not a car crash in a glass but a weirdly compelling combo. ‘Choco-Sauco’ appears on the plate like a comet streaking through the sky; an agglomeration of chocolate mousse, ganache, elderberry gel and puffed cereals so good that I (attempt to) ignore the presence of popping candy.
Congratulations on your latest arrival, Martin. It’s a beauty and an asset to the London restaurant family. With this little gem, I’ve an inkling you’ve birthed a high-flyer.
Make it happen
Where: 31 Great Windmill Street, London W1D 7LP
Find out more: To visit the website, click here