You know what they say: practice makes perfect. And Harry Edmeades, aka Señor Ceviche, has had plenty of practice. In 2012, after a stint at Lima’s renowned ceviche restaurant El Mercado, the 25-year-old British chef came back to London and started Don Ceviche, a pop-up with just five ceviches (raw fish cured in citrus juice). Then he spent another two years perfecting and expanding the menu before launching this ‘proper’ restaurant.
Señor Ceviche is in Kingly Court, a faux-historic shopping courtyard just off Carnaby Street. But it’s not in an ‘easy’ ground-floor site, which would guarantee passing trade to an ice-cream shop in winter. It’s a first-floor venue, which you have to go out of your way to find. But be assured, this cheery place is worth climbing the stairs for.
The large dining room is bright, open-plan and pretty. Sure, there are obvious design points, such as overhead venting ducts and the ubiquitous open kitchen but, rather than going all Soho-by-numbers, this is a slick London take on Lima’s boho Barranco District, with patterned floor tiles and chicha street-art posters the colour of highlighter pens.
Dishes are equally vibrant. ‘Spaniard’ ceviche added just-cooked king prawns and crunchy chorizo to the sea bream in its tomato-laced citrus-chilli marinade (‘tiger’s milk’). There are terrific anticuchos (chargrilled skewers), such as daringly pink-middled beef steak with smoky chilli sauce. Even quinoa salad – a dish that, let’s face it, normally wears socks with its sandals – impressed with zingy, perfectly textured grains, al dente veg and crunchy corn. Only one grumble: they could have been more generous with the promised ‘crumbly queso’.
And the final ‘Olé!’? A passion fruit posset whose sweet, sharp and creamy base came topped with teeny-tiny pieces of dehydrated mango and – get this – a scattering of popping candy.
The music is upbeat, the staff almost improbably good-natured. Cocktails have plenty of Latin spirit. So, señor, muchas gracias! We’ll be back. Wouldn’t want you to get out of practice.