These days you can’t swing a cat in London without hitting a place slinging ceviche. With so many new places opening up (or popping up) in the last few years, no one was surprised when, in 2014, The Guardian declared it the newest food wave to hit London. Much like Japanese food, I love Peruvian for its focus on fresh and fantastic tasting fish. While, I’m pretty sure Peruvian food is relatively cheap in Peru, all that ceviche in London will cost you a pretty pisco.
Speak of the devil.
Forsaking all the ‘trendy’ new places, we decided to visit Tierra Peru, open since 2010 and full of friendly faces. While we waited for my always-late sister to arrive, we peru-sed the cocktail menu. Peru-sed, eh, eh? I’ll get my coat. We went for the classic pisco sours and my dad for the traditional Cusqueña, a pale lager from a brewery in Lima.
While at first we were interested in their sharing platters for two, at £25 per person this seemed just way too much. We decided to try a lot of sharing dishes and started with two ceviches; their traditional ceviche with tiger’s milk, crunchy corn and sweet potato, and their costa verde with avocado peas and spring onion.
This was my father’s first time trying ceviche and he loved it. How could you not? At Tierra Peru, you get a good sized portion, extremely flavourful and with just the right amount of spice.
Look at these funny little guys! Don’t they look all innocent sitting there, like Easter Sunday treats? Also known as Yucas relienas de queso en salsa huancáina, they are deep fried cassava balls stuffed with cheese and amarillo pepper. Crunchy, creamy and delicious, but be careful, that cheesy sauce also packs a spicy punch!
Not the most photogenic of the bunch, the Pulpo al Olivo, octopus served with black Peruvian botijaolive cream was an interesting dish. Crunchy but chewy and unfortunately not overly memorable.
What won’t soon be forgotten is this triple threat. Three shots, ascending in spiciness. I only tried the first and the mildest, dipping their delicious Bolo, cassava cheese bread, in to taste. But apparently the alarming looking red was not the spiciest, but in fact the middle child, pink. It’s always the quiet ones.
Don’t leave Tierra without dessert. The waitress recommended their ‘New York’ cheesecake and my reaction was *eyeroll* and ‘no thanks’ but we tried it and it was a revelation. More dense and much creamier than cheesecake and with a tropical twist. We lapped it up, literally.
And of course, you know me and my fondness for alfajores. We dipped in them in our choice of caramel icecream, which turned out to be a lot fruiter than you’d expect from caramel.
The best part of this meal was what a pleasant surprise it was to experience all these flavours, to forget your preconceptions and just enjoy. I’ve been to a couple of the newer Peruvian places in London, notably Andina, and felt like their food was just too stylised and lacking substance.
Tierra Peru definitely isn’t fine dining, it’s on the rustic side, big on flavours and not afraid of a little spice! It certainly wasn’t a cheap meal, we paid about £122 for 4 people, but it was hugely enjoyable and we’ll be back!
Find Tierra Peru:
164 Essex Road,
London N1 8LY