Last year saw a spate of Peruvian restaurants opening in London. There was Ceviche in Soho, with lots of ceviche, surprisingly enough; Lima in Fitzrovia, with its beautifully colourful food; and Coya, a new restaurant and members’ club on Piccadilly. I’ve decided my favourite Peruvian import is the pisco sour (sours made with pisco, a grape brandy), but I also tried some interesting and mostly delicious food at Coya for lunch last week.
The décor is plush Latin with lots of dark panelling, acid lime velvet and neon-knitted tribal masks on the wall. The place is big, with different sections of the open kitchen on show, and a separate pisco bar before you get to the restaurant (there is also a members’ part too). The menu is also big, with small dishes including ceviche and little skewers, with larger dishes including those cooked with their Josper oven.
I made the mistake of not taking notes, so have been trying to remember all the rather mysterious Peruvian sounding ingredients (bear with me – I think I’ve remembered the crucial parts). We started with a fresh corn salad and a stunning ceviche of corvina (a white fish), with the perfect balance of the citrusy marinade and earthy truffle.
The thinly sliced raw yellowtail tuna came with a cool but spicy green chilli, coriander and lime sauce and daikon, and the scallops were perfectly cooked with their limo chilli crumb and onion and pea shoots. The chicken skewer was tender but lacked a punchy flavour of aji Amarillo (South American hot yellow chilli) and garlic, but the crispy squid with coriander and ginger dipping sauce was a nice take on fried squid.
The best main was the beautifully tender and pink beef fillet, with crispy spring onions, rocoto chilli and star anise. The lobster and tiger prawns both came with the same chilli salsa, and were both a little underwhelming after the other dishes despite the fancy shellfish. From the sides, we tried patatas bravas (different to the usual Spanish kind, but tasty nonetheless), and nicely simple asparagus and sprouting broccoli with chilli and garlic butter.
We finished with their Fortunato chocolate fondant, with almond and roasted white chocolate ice-cream, chilli-chocolate ice-cream and a refreshingly tart citrus pisco sorbet. The corn sundae with sweet corn ice cream also sounded an intriguing and fun dessert.
I went to Coya on a work lunch, but if you are footing the bill, the smaller dishes are around the £10 mark, with the larger dishes around £15-30. The service was very good, and the food was impressive on the whole, with vibrant flavours and interesting combinations, and all very beautiful on their lovely earthenware plates. I haven’t yet been to any of the other Peruvian places in town, but will make it my mission to search out the best pisco sour this year.