Peruvian is one of the latest cuisines to hit London, first making waves in 2012 when the likes of Coya and Lima opened their doors to inquisitive Londoners. Andina is a relatively new kid on the scene, and what better time to enjoy its fresh ceviche dishes, lively salads and BBQ meats than when summertime is slowly pushing out the winter chills.
I have never been to Peru, nor even South America, but Andina’s vibrant open kitchen, extremely friendly service, colourful decor and generally upbeat and sunny vibes are exactly what I would expect of a Peruvian restaurant, with the little knowledge I do have from watching travel shows on the telly.
Andina is a place to come with a group of friends, where you can get a little tipsy on sharp and frothy Pisco Sours (£8) while fighting over the last bite of sweet and nutty cornbread, which is laced with nuggets of tangy Greek-style cheese, topped with buttery avocado and served with salsa criolla (a Peruvian staple composed on ribbons of red onion in tangy lime juice, with coriander, tomato, pepper, avocado or sometimes beetroot) and an elegant sweep of creamy corn purée.
You can’t come to a Peruvian restaurant without ordering ceviche. The classic version (£9.50) uses sustainable sea bass tossed with more salsa criolla and limey tiger’s milk. The classic is fantastic, but also try the Ceviche Andina (£10), a lively mix with goldenberries, avocado, sweet potato and amarillo tiger’s milk.
The pork stuffed squid dish (£11) masterfully brings together land and sea. The soft, pure white squid looks set to burst, stuffed with tender, fall-apart pork, and served on a bed of red quinoa laced with fennel seeds and crushed peanut.
The Chancho Chancoso (£13) went down a storm: pan-fried secreto iberico, a cut of pork famed for its beautiful marbling and intense flavour. The meat is glazed in a sticky rocoto pepper sauce made with chancaca, a typical South-American raw sugar, and accompanied by a delicate cauliflower cream.
Great news for those with food intolerances, or who are vegan and vegetarian – Andina’s menu is largely gluten free and features plenty of meat-free options, including a tasty braised aubergine dish (£7) with quinoa and queso fresca, and a hearty corn burger (£8) with fiery chilli sauce, served in a sweet brioche bap.
At the end of the meal, we discovered a card with a glossary of terms in the centre of the table, which would have been rather helpful when ordering from the unfamiliar menu. But maybe that is half of the fun – pick at random and take your tastebuds on a tantalising journey across Peru.
1 Redchurch Street
T: 020 7920 6499
Open 8:00-23:00 (Mon-Fri), 10:00-23:00 (Sat & Sun)