If you don’t know Kingly Court in Soho, you’d be forgiven for not realising it’s there. An open space between buildings fronting onto Ganton Street to the North, Carnaby Street to the East, Beak Street to the South and Kingly Street to the West, this tiny enclave has become a bustling food hub with over twenty restaurants, bars and cafes crammed into its small area.
On the second floor, looking out over the open court space, is Señor Ceviche. This funky and colourful restaurant and cocktail bar is modelled on the vibe of Barranco, an increasingly bohemian district of Lima that is home to artists, musicians and designers and full of charming boutiques and lively restaurants and bars.
At the back of the room is the open kitchen and to one side the bar. Decor is eclectic, with pattern-painted wooden floors, wooden panels on some of the walls and colourful posters on the others. The industrial-style ceiling has been left uncovered, as is increasingly common these days. Some beautiful traditional tiling finishes the charmingly mish-mash look.
The food is fun too, with colourful dishes based on Peruvian streetfood. As is only fitting, a few of the dishes showcase Japanese flavours too; Peruvian cuisine has been much influenced by Nikkei immigration in the last century and this fusion of traditions is prevalent in Peru.
Of course, there’s a great cocktail list with several Pisco-based options. Pete has a straight Pisco Sour (£8.50), also available in passion fruit, lemongrass, spiced pineapple and strawberry flavours. I enjoy my tall Ayahuasca (£9) – a blend of rum, peach liqueur, spiced pineapple syrup and ginger beer.
The vibe is relaxed, with upbeat music playing, but not so loud that you can’t chat to your friends as you eat.
The menu is split into several sections and staff advise ordering around 3 dishes per person from across the menu.
From Para Picar we choose Aubergine picarones (£6), sweet potato and aubergine doughnuts with aioli and roasted peanuts. I love the sweet potato batter but the aubergine inside is bland and the aioli lacks punch too. The sweet potato is definitely the saving grace of the dish though, and makes it a thumbs up rather than a so so.
The Sanguchitos (sandwiches) section is short and sweet but we’re keen to try one so we choose Atun (£5.50). The small brioche bun is filled with seared tuna in a miso and honey glaze, with spring onion, cucumber and tarragon mayo and it’s gorgeous! Definitely order one per person as the juiciness of the filling means it disintegrates fast and isn’t easy to hand over; not that you’ll want to share anyway!
Part of me feels that we ought to choose Senor Ceviche (£9) from the Ceviche & Tiradito section, named as it is for the restaurant itself. But Pete’s not a fan of octopus or squid so we order Mr Miyagi (£7) instead – salmon with tiger’s milk (the colloquial name given to the dressing of fish juices and citrus), pomegranate, purple shiso and salmon scratchings and we’re not sorry. Soft, slippery salmon pairs perfectly with its dressing, and the pomegranate, shisho and crispy salmon skin add sweetness, herb and crunch.
It’s the Peruvian Barbecue section of the menu I find hardest to resist.
First we have the Anticucho de res (£7), two skewers of thinly cut and folded beef heart grilled and served with a crunchy red salad, a vivid sweet potato mayonnaise and a little tapenade-like pile of olives, aji panca (chilli pepper) and mint. I love these skewers; not too chewy and with a mere hint of offal flavour, the beef heart is smoky from the grill and nicely balanced by the garnishes. Pete agrees it’s not too awful for offal but leaves the majority of it to me.
I do like the flavour of the crusted marinade on the Pachamanca pork ribs (£9) but they’ve been cooked too long, resulting in a thicker blackened crust and more lingering burnt flavour than is ideal; a little char is wonderful but too much just tastes of soot! Under the very thick crust, the meat is nicely cooked and the herbs, spring onions and coriander scattered over the top bring a little freshness back. Grilled a few minutes less I think this dish would be a winner.
As it’s name implies, Super pollo (£8) is super, one of my favourite dishes of the meal. The marinated and grilled chicken is superbly moist, and here the charring is just right to add flavour without overwhelming the dish. The red pepper sauce and piquillo pepper salsa are spot on. The only thing I would change about this dish is to suggest better filleting of the meat – too many lumps of cartilage to spit out for my liking.
From Sides & Salads we choose the Frijoles negros (£4), black beans cooked with smoked bacon, burnt aubergine, aji panca, pineapple and sour cream. I can’t really detect the pineapple but the overall flavour is lovely, though in retrospect I think one of the salads may have been a better match for the other dishes we chose.
We’re a little full really to have anything from the Postre (dessert) section but agree to share a portion of Tres Leches (£5). I’m glad we do as this modern take on the traditional cake features a delightfully light and moist chocolate sponge, pisco syrup, white chocolate and saffron cream and dulce de leche ice cream. A lovely dish to finish a vibrant and enjoyable lunch.
The bill, with a coffee added, is £61.50 before service, so about £30 a head and we’ve certainly been a little greedy – we would have been perfectly full and contented with one or two fewer dishes!
The food and atmosphere here is lovely, and the place is busy during our weekday lunchtime visit. I’d recommend planning in advance and booking a table, especially if you’re coming in a group for an evening meal. During the weekday, you may be able to wing it, especially if you avoid the weekday lunch rush and pop in for an early or late lunch.
Kavey Eats dined as guests of Señor Ceviche.