Andina, a recently opened Peruvian restaurant in Shoreditch was the Friday night dining destination of choice for myself and my two old school friends, Danni and Jess.
Martin Morales, founder of Ceviche in Soho, has been fundamental in bringing the current trend of Peruvian food to London. Morales is passionate about Peruvian food and culture and, after the success of Ceviche, comes Andina, serving food inspired by the Peruvian Andes. The Shoreditch restaurant has an all day menu of healthy, nutritious food alongside smoothies and a choice of Pisco cocktails. The menu is also heavy on the vegetarian options and many dishes are gluten-free.
The interior is cosy and rustic with wooden tables and chairs and Peruvian artwork adorning the walls. The effect is friendly and informal rather than canteen casual.
I arrived first and ordered a nice glass of Sauv Blanc plus some cancha (crunchy Peruvian corn) to nibble on.
The corn is perfectly crunchy and salty and totally addictive! Fortunately, my friends arrived before I'd eaten the whole bowl.
Having been travelling in Peru, my friend Danni has a good knowledge the cuisine and was on hand to advise us of the best dishes to choose. We decide to share everything and would first try three starters.
First up was the tiger's milk trio. The three shots glasses comprised amarillo chilli with seabass, Nikkei with Prawn, rocoto pepper with avocado and scallops, with cancha. And more of that addictive corn!! Tiger's milk is the Peruvian name for the citrus marinade that cures the seafood and is a common ingredient in ceviche.
The waitress had warned us that this wasn't really a dish for sharing as the shot glasses were small but we did divvy it up so each of got to try the little glasses of gourmet deliciousness. We enjoyed all the ceviches and each was more spicy than the last. But I love spicy food!
Pan-fried green beans with cancha corn in sacha inchi oil made the perfect accompaniment and the oil was light and non-greasy.
Finally for starter a neat little package of flavour. Steamed quinoa and coriander dumpling, fresco cheese and salsa criolla. The dumpling was creamy but with a bite to it owing to the grainy quinoa.
At this point it was time to order Piscos! Pisco is a grape brandy produced in the winemaking regions of Peru, and it makes a damn fine cocktail! Danni went for the classic Pisco Sour, lime, sugar syrup, egg white and amargo chuncho bitters. It is one of her favourite cocktails and she was not disappointed by Andina's version.
A Vida Eterna: marigold and mandarin infused pisco, juniper berries, guava juice and tonic water. Very refreshing!
Next came our sharing main courses.
Creamed quinoa with artichokes, wild mushrooms and tarragon. Like our quinoa starter this was creamy yet grainy. It was a tasty dishy but probably better placed as a side dish alongside a protein-based main. Kind of a Peruvian mashed potato! Comfort food but not really a star dish in itself.
Traditional casserole of chicken, amarillo chilli, pecan nuts, rice and crispy quinoa coated chicken was pronounced the firm favourite of the three of us. A delicious crispy chicken, sort of like a healthy (ish!) KFC!
Three cool potato cake with different toppings: scallops with amarillo chilli mayonnaise, pan-fried hake with salsa criolla and grilled trout with avocado and grapefruit with rocoto jam. I probably would have preferred the potato cakes warm but it was good to try three different dishes and the colour pop on the plate was beautiful!
We were tempted by dessert especially when we saw the pumpkin doughnuts arrive at the table next to us! But we decided to hold back and it was on to Shoreditch House (round the corner from Andina) for more Friday night fun!
Andina is a lovely little restaurant but personally I prefer Morales first restaurant, Ceviche, and for truly stunning Peruvian food head to Michelin-starred Lima in Fitzrovia.