Bored with burgers? Tired of tapas? Then let Andina shimmy up your tastebuds with its Peruvian-inspired ceviches, street food, cocktails, and colourful smoothies. Peruvian food only started to make waves in London in 2012, when a couple of smart, aspirational restaurants – Lima and Ceviche – opened within months of each other in the West End. Ceviche is the more affordable of these two, a Soho bar and diner with a menu of dishes seldom seen on our shores. Andina is Ceviche’s second branch, but rather than imitating its older Soho sibling, it has new tricks, some of them inspired by the food of the Andes.
Peruvian food is regionally diverse, but ceviches are enjoyed everywhere. Raw fish is marinated in citrus juice which can then be spiced with chilli or have other dressings or garnishes added. Andina’s ‘Cheeky’ ceviche, one of six on the menu, comprises thin slices of hake and cod cheeks marinated in citrus juice with spring onion, and it’s a proper palate‑cleanser. New World staples are well-represented: the giant Peruvian popcorn snack called cancha is a must-try; and potatoes appear in many forms. A main course of three potato cakes was beautifully decorated – the spicy seafood toppings did a decent job of livening up what would otherwise be dollops of cold potato mash. Unfamiliar names and unusual combinations litter the menu, such as the chupe (seafood chowder) of black quinoa, king prawns, broad beans and giant corn – never a dull mouthful.
Andina is as much a bar as a restaurant, attracting a lively mix of well-dressed Peruvians on both the smaller ground floor and in the bar of the much larger basement dining room. The pisco sour (Peru’s national cocktail of pisco spirit with lime juice and frothed egg white) is peerless. The upbeat music is well-chosen; Andina’s owner is a former DJ and music biz honcho. On weekdays 8-11am (last orders 10.45) Peruvian-style breakfasts are served, while at weekends a brunch menu can be ordered from 10am to 4pm.