Tiradito and Pisco Bar, Madrid

On a recent visit to Madrid, we visited Tiradito and Pisco bar, a Peruvian restaurant located on Conde Duque. Headed by Chef Omar Uribe, the menu was inspired by Chef Uribe’s life experiences including his childhood trips throughout the mountains, jungles and along the coasts of Peru. Chef Uribe also draws from his experiences from having worked with some of the best chefs in the world including the famed Peruvian chef Jamie Pesaque who previously cooked at the Three Michelin Starred El Celler de Can Roca and now owns a string of successful restaurants throughout the world. The food at Tiradito and Pisco Bar is unique as it incorporates the use of lesser known – at least to the European world – ingredients such as Amazonian fruits and vegetables.

The decor at Tiradito is lovely and light and is divided into two sections. On entering the restaurant there is a casual bar area serving killer pisco sours and small bites. Passing through the bar you enter the main dining room, a comfortable well-lit area with with wooden floors and tables with white tablecloths.

We began the meal with an amuse bouche of beef patacones, “Patacones la Lucha” (€8.90). These were fried plantain shells with Spanish spicy chorizo and sirloin sautéed on the wok with soy, aji amarillo chilli and sacha tomato (tree tomato). This was truly delicious. The beef was tender and tasty, and well flavoured by the freshness of the chilli and sweet tomato. The plantain shell was crispy and well made.

Tiradito - London Food Blog - Beef patacones

Tiradito – Beef patacones

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Pachamama – Visit No. 2 Update

I couldn’t wait to go back to Pachamama for lunch after my hugely rewarding last visit (you can read about it here). I loved the food and I was also pleasantly surprised at what good value the lunch menu was. Each dish was priced at a mere £6. So during a spot of gift shopping along Oxford Street two days before Christmas, I decided to pop into Pachamama for a bite to each for some respite from all that Christmas craziness.

This time I tried two new dishes, starting with the lamb anticuchos which were really nicely cooked, with meat that was were tender and very tasty. Charred mackerel with bleeding tiger’s milk was also very enjoyable. The mackerel was fresh and there was a pleasant and well-balanced acidity coming through from the tiger’ milk (the citrus based marinade used in ceviche). The mackerel was cooked through so it wasn’t really a ceviche dish, but the combination worked well together.

Pachamama - Lamb anticuchos

Lamb anticuchos

Pachamama - Charred mackerel

Charred mackerel

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Pachamama is the latest addition to the Peruvian food scene in London, and a really exciting one at that. It serves innovative dishes by combining together an interesting array of quality ingredients, with fish from Cornwall and meats from Yorkshire. It is going up against other Peruvian heavy weights such as Michelin starred Lima, Coya and Ceviche. But Pachamama is as good as it gets, and holds its own with class.

The décor of Pachamama was unconventionally un-Peruvian and resembled the style of an old British colonial home with reclaimed antiques. But it was very tasteful and comfortable, with the restaurant stretching along an L-shape and backing onto the open kitchen. There is also a swanky cocktail bar serving Peruvian classics such as home-infused Piscos with seasonal berries, herbs and fruits, and other creative and reasonably priced cocktails such as The Curandero – a vodka, lime and chilli sherbet drink topped with ginger beer (£8).

We visited Pachamama for lunch, to try their special ‘Pick and Mix’ set lunch menu which features dishes from various categories – ceviche, robata grill, Josper oven, salad and dessert, all at a very reasonable £6 per dish. This special menu is only available during weekday lunchtimes, and in the evenings and weekends Pachamama offers an a la carte menu.

It wouldn’t do to not try ceviche at a Peruvian restaurant, and at Pachamama we had the chilled prawn and sea bass ceviches. Both were resounding fresh, with the bouncy prawns being paired with some fabulously crunch onions, squash, English mustard and tiger’s milk. It was refreshing and tangy, but a little too sharp on the palate. As for the sea bass ceviche with tiger’s milk, this was very pleasant, especially with the crunchy samphire, radish and luscious sweet potatoes.

Pachamama – Chilled prawn ceviche

Chilled prawn ceviche

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Coya is a super cool Peruvian Restaurant and Bar which has a touch of the theatrical to it. Brought to us by restaurateur Arjun Waney who is responsible for other famous restaurants such as Roka and Zuma, the décor is a mixture of sumptuous furnishings and a fabulous colour scheme that combines vibrancy with a distressed metallic finish. There is a basement restaurant and bar as well as a dedicated members area on the ground floor. The menu has been designed for sharing and puts up a broad offering of ceviche, tiraditos (similar to sashimi), anticuchos (grilled skewers) and small bites alongside a mixture of meat and fish mains. Peruvian in inspiration, there are touches of the eclectic to it with some Asian twists thrown in.

From the anticuchos section we tried the grilled skewered tiger prawns (£8.50) which had been beautifully cooked. The prawns were firm and tasty and had been coated with a pleasant, but rather delicate tomato, garlic and ginger rub. A touch more seasoning might have therefore worked better.

Coya - Tiger prawns

Tiger prawns

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Peruvian restaurants are all the rage right now. At one end of the spectrum, there is the ever-busy, ever-popular crowd pleaser Ceviche. But towards the more upmarket end, there is Lima on Rathbone Street, a Peruvian restaurant that blends the traditional with the contemporary and which was recently voted as the ‘One to Watch’ at the 2012 National Restaurants Awards.

The people behind Lima include chef Virgilio Martinez, who is currently chef patron of Central restaurant in Lima, named as the best restaurant in Peru by the 2012 Summum Guide. Prior to that, he headed up the kitchen at Astrid y Gaston, a notable restaurant in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Lima’s Head chef is Virgilio’s long-time friend Robert Ortiz, who for the last five years has been part of the creative team at Central. There’s a strong cooking pedigree behind the restaurant and the menu reads like a dream – exciting, creative and enthralling with its strong use of South American ingredients. Lima is refreshing and modern in its design with an Aztec-like feel running through the restaurant.

A starter of bay scallops tiradito (raw), yellow aji emulsion, umami salt and cassava (£8) was distinctively interesting. The scallops were sweet and the emulsion added a delicate hint of spiciness to this beautifully presented, eclectic and delicious dish.

Bay scallops tiradito

Bay scallops tiradito

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Peruvian food was a barely known cuisine in London until a few months ago. All that seemed to change when half-British, half-Peruvian Martin Morales opened Ceviche back in March, a Peruvian restaurant and pisco bar on Frith Street in the heart of Soho. The restaurant is named after the famous Peruvian dish (ceviche) of raw seafood marinated in lime. Since its arrival, Ceviche has created the kind of hype that seems to suggest Peruvian food is the latest craze in old London town. In the months ahead, Morales plans to open two more Peruvian restaurants, and with that, Peruvian food seems here to stay. About time I say. Craze or no craze, as far as international cities go, London is behind the times. New Yorkers have long embraced Peruvian (fusion) food and their association with it goes way back, even before I was living in NYC more than 10 years ago.

The food at Ceviche isn’t just about ceviche. The menu is split into lots of different sections with nibbles, grills, salads and classic favourites (but sadly no guinea pig). From the nibbles, we tried the deep-fried tequeños fritters (£3.75) filled with a delicious mix of chicken and chilli. I adored the accompanying ají amarillo chilli dipping sauce which was moderately spicy and moderately sweet. However the fritter effect would have worked better had the wrapping been a little less soggy. A little bit crispier and the tequeños would have been spot-on.



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