Continuing my Peruvian quest in London (see Lima), I finally made time for dinner at Andina on a friend’s beaming recommendation. In classic ‘build excitement and get hungry’ style, I read up on the premise of the restaurant and it’s actually very charming…founder, Martin Morales, took all the knowledge he inherited from his nana, Mamita Naty, and created a contemporary picanteria in Shoreditch.

The atmosphere and interior of Andina didn’t disappoint! Basket lights glowed amber across bright tiles, exposed brick pillars and checkered floors in the main dining room and downstairs, I was sat opposite wooden shelving stacked with colourful jars of all things preserved and pickled! My friend was running a little late, but I happily read through ‘The Peruvian Kitchen’s A-Z’, a glossary to decipher the menu, which was an excellent touch! I now know that lime juice and chillies are the main elements of Tiger’s milk (and there is no connection to tiger mums!)

As recommended, we shared 6 dishes – Ceviche Clásico (seabass ceviche served with sweet potato and choclo corn), Sudado de Pescado (grey mullet in fish broth with seaweed, tomato and cassava root mash), Bistec Escabechado (marinated grilled fillet steak), Majarisco (seared king prawns in a prawn bisque on green plantain mash), Corn Cake & Avocado (with salsa criolla) and Picarones Doughnuts (pumpkin, purple maize syrup and chocolate fudge) for dessert.

The favourites were definitely the king prawns, seabass ceviche and corn cake that were all fresh and packed with contrasting flavours and textures, followed loosely by the fillet steak, which was good, but not outstanding. I had great expectations for the grey mullet, especially the cassava root (yuca) mash, as a Brazilian friend had previously home cooked yuca mash for me and it was creamy, delicious and moreish. Sadly, even though the broth had some flavour, everything else had the same texture and were fairly bland. I can only describe it as over-boiled vegetables sat in water, which is very disappointing for a £12 dish.

The doughnuts looked inviting and well-presented when they arrived, but left an unusual after taste and were a bit gooey inside, which gave us the impression they were slightly under-cooked. This could be how they are typically meant to taste, being made from pumpkin, however, it wasn’t the sweet ending to the meal we expected.

Andina (7)

The service was very welcoming, attentive and seemed more genuine than I’ve ever experienced before. Our waitress in particular, knew the dishes very well and had a particular interest in our feedback. Though I personally won’t be returning to Andina in a hurry, it is beautiful, has some excellent dishes and is a Coeliac’s dream with a menu packed full of gluten free dishes!

Area: Shoreditch
Rating: 3.7 / 5.0

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