Who’s Who: Peruvian pioneer discusses second restaurant branch in Finsbury
Ceviche master excited by Old Street venture
It wasn’t so long ago that suggesting to a friend you should go for Peruvian meal out would have elicited an archly raised eyebrow, or perhaps even a splutter of disbelief.
But in the last couple of years Andean eating habits have rocketed from an unknown quantity to culinary fringe fad and now nestle firmly in the mainstream, with Peruvian food joints popping up all over the place.
It all came about from a handful of early pioneers; Essex Road’s Tierra Peru included, but perhaps more famously Martin Morales’ Ceviche which began as a pop-up venture before settling into permanent Soho premises.
The place has been a rip-roaring success, garnering the love of critics and the restaurant-going public alike.
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Now the Peruvian born restaurateur has announced a second branch of Ceviche, in City Road, Finsbury; a 130-cover eatery set to open in the historic Alexandra Trust Dining Rooms next year.
“The area has a fantastic mix of people who we know want to try new flavours and see new things,” he said.
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“We believe people in the area are excited about having a pint in a new way, trying a pisco cocktail that will introduce them to a new experience or a dish that will blow their mind without burning into their wallet.”
The new restaurant aims to resurrect the glory days of the almost derelict Alexandra Trust Dining Rooms, which more than 120 years ago fed thousands of hard working Londoners.
On a special launch event on December 4, the old building will come alive with ceviche making alongside Peruvian art and music.
“It’s our way of saying hello and welcome,” said Mr Morales. “We’re being honest about our intentions and sharing by taking you through an experience and letting you see the space before it becomes Ceviche Old Street.
“It’s a real one off which will never happen again.”
For those who don’t know, Ceviche is pretty much Peru’s national dish. Typically raw chunks of white fish are ‘cooked’ in tigers milk; a potent mixture of citrus and fiery Andean chillies.
But there’s more to Peruvian food than that; Anticuchos (grilled beef heart skewers - a lot tastier than they sound), quinoa, choclo (corn), Lomo saltado (steak), spicy stews, deep fried pork – the list is seemingly endless, all characterised by exotic and luridly coloured native vegetables and Amarillo chillies.
Mr Morales has even released a cookbook, also called Ceviche, to teach the masses how to inject some south American flair into their cooking.
He won’t be scared to throw the rule book out of the window with his latest food adventure, however.
“My team and I always like to do new things,” he said.
“And we don’t like to repeat ourselves. So the design, menu and vibe will all be unique at Ceviche Old Street and we will introduce a designated bar area for those who want to socialise after work with a drink and some Peruvian food.
“We’ll also have a Peruvian chicken rotisserie which will also be available as takeaway.
“We have grown leaps and bounds with our experiences from Andina [in Shoreditch] and Ceviche Soho so we will also have some much loved elements from these too.
“Innovation is not a buzz word for us; it’s part of our DNA as we always want to push the boundary of what comfortable, sociable, fun and exciting, even practical eating and drinking is all about.
“We hope Ceviche Old Street will be just like the friendliest restaurant, pub or takeaway you ever walked into, but with the magic my team and I are known for.
“We will always seek the new, the exciting, the fresh, but always the honest and healthy way forward with food, drinks and design. Paying homage to my home country of Peru.”
Ceviche Old Street, in City Road, Finsbury, is set to open in March 2015.
The free welcome event will take place on December 4.