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Casita Andina

Restaurants, Pan-South American Soho
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A homely Soho townhouse from the people behind Ceviche and Andina.

Just in case your GCSE Spanish is a little rusty, ‘casita’ means ‘little house’. And Casita Andina is just that: a little house. Specifically, one of those Georgian townhouses in Soho, where the rooms are small, the windows tall and the floors all stacked on top of each another. Being from the same people that gave us Ceviche and Andina, it’s got a laidback, Latin kinda vibe. By day, it’s serene and relaxed, with the best seats on the first floor (high ceilings, heaps of natural light). By night, there are no bad seats. The ground floor melts from buzzy (up front) into intimate (at the back), while the shindigs sit on the vibrant first floor. This is also the entrance to what is officially my favourite new ‘hidden’ spot: a tiny, three-table terrace with turquoise-painted walls, atmospheric lighting and fronds of swishy potted plants. All under the cover of a practical, retractable awning, because, let’s face it, we’re still in London, not Lima.

As for the menu, you can’t mistake its parents: it’s a little bit Ceviche (cold cured fish) and a little bit Andina (wholesome superfoods). I have a particular soft spot for the signature ‘ceviche casita’: a pretty tumble of glistening seabass with avocado, red onion, sweet potato and the crunch of toasted corn, all offset by its zingy ‘tiger’s milk’ marinade, this is a summer holiday of a dish that you could eat whatever the weather.

From the ‘hot kitchen’ came the warmer-uppers: a trio of fat, juicy king prawns luxuriating in their own spiced seafood stew; a daringly pink stack of lamb medallions. But if it’s comfort you’re after, you have to try the pork tamal. This is essentially a steamed corn ‘dumpling’ in the shape of a giant, squidgy sausage. The starchy outer has a sweet, subtle flavour; slice it open to reveal its meaty, fiery, tender pork middle. It’s ugly, yet strangely beautiful.

But it’s not always fiesta time in this casita. On the night of my visit, the kitchen’s use of powdered panca chilli (with its low-heat but high-intensity ‘roasted chilli’ flavour) was heavy-handed, overwhelming the otherwise delicate flavours in a vegan dish of crunchy cauliflower, sweet potato and broad beans, or a bowl of battered avocado chunks. More attentive service would be nice, too: my drink wasn’t refilled once.

Then puds arrived and I forgave them instantly. There’s intriguing whipped avocado (think of it as a substitute for cream), served in a glass with strawberries and spindly sticks of sugary meringue. Or the must-try ‘choco-sauco’. A rich, decadent sphere of chocolate mousse, it comes with intense elderberry gel, crunchy cereals and popping candy. Forget ending things with a bang: what you want is crackle-crackle-crackle.


Address: 31 Great Windmill Street
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £95.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11am-midnight; Sat & Sun 10am-midnight
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