Taste Peru in Piccadilly

Taste Peru in Piccadilly

Despite its auspicious address on London’s Piccadilly, Coya is a calm and discreet venue in which to sample one of the hot culinary trends for 2013 – Peruvian food.

Coya itself is part members club, part bar and part restaurant, which means you may have to look twice to spot its Inca-inspired logo on the doorway facing Green Park. Once inside, this below-ground space is relaxed and comfortable – more suited to pleasure than business, though its food and service are certainly smart enough for either.

Peru has been named “the next culinary superpower” by gastronomic trend forecasters, and Coya is well-placed to pick up on this boom. Ceviche, Tierra Peru, Lima and Sushisamba have been winning accolades for bringing Peruvian food to the capital, and Coya will surely help further the cause for those who’ve yet to try it.

While South America has been one of the focal points of the simple steak restaurant revival, Peru’s exciting palette of flavours offers much more variety than a flame-grilled slabs of meat. Many of the plates are smallish at Coya, which is a great way to sample the different types of dishes and cooking styles on offer, especially if you’re new to food from this part of the world.

Ceviche (marinated and diced raw fish), tiraditos (thinly sliced raw fish) and small skewers of grilled meat and fish called anticuchos are all served with common themes – fresh flavours, perfect presentation and zingy colours. The combinations of tastes and smells in Peruvian cuisine may be new to you, but there is more than enough on the menu to recognize, making it perfect for those looking for adventure, but safe enough for those who’d rather just dip their toe in.

Peru is, after all, the original home of the potato, and Pork chop with garlic mash sits cosily alongside more daring (but equally delicious) offerings like baby squid, peruvian marigold and quinoa. Save some space for one of the highlights of our visit, the corn ice cream dessert, and of course an expertly mixed, frothy Pisco sour to wash it all down with.

The set lunch delivers great value at ?26 for three courses and ?31.50 for four, and while there are some headier prices for single dishes available a la carte, it’s easy to still eat well here without feeling you’ve got to order from the top of the menu.

The wine list was a little disappointing, with only a single (red and white house) wine from Chile making an appearance, while more expensive French options dominate. Surely an opportunity to showcase some of the continent’s best wines has been missed, even if Peru itself isn’t known for its vines.

But these are small gripes. What Coya does, it does very well, and in some style. There are few restaurants where the food not only tastes but looks so fresh, and its ambition to lead the discovery of Peruvian food in the capital is one within reach.

Coya, 118 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London. Open Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner. For reservations call +44 (0) 20 7042 7118, or visit www.coyarestaurant.com

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