1 October 2015

Peruvian Plates at Pachamama, Marylebone, London

I want to tell you about the best meal I've had this year.
Which is a huge claim because we've had some cracking meals this year. Like when I took Dan (my long-term man associate) to Ink for his birthday, the restaurant of Nordic Cuisine Madman Martyn Meid, whose food I had the pleasure of sampling last year courtesy of Miele (hello 9 about them all here) which Dan had been jealous of ever since I went. Then we also went to Sushi Samba, amazing Brazilian inspired sushi with a killer view, so Dan could thank me for being me and ultimately just being the best person ever (this blog is rich in sarcasm). It's a hard life. Although both restaurants were incredible, I keep thinking back to our visit to Pachamama, a peruvian fusion restaurant serving up some sexy sharing dishes, and what a great night out we had parents. They know how to hang loose guys! And if you're not taking your rents out on a Friday night then more fool you.

I'll lay it on the line, my photos from Pachamama are substandard. But the food was amazing, so amazing I'm sharing my camera phone horror pics with you. Look away now if you don't want to be scared! We'd bought my mum's boyfriend tickets to see Shakespeare in Love (which apparently is also great but is no longer running, sorry guys) and said we'd take them out for dinner afterwards. My mum isn't great on tubes so the brief was to find a place within walking distance of the theatre that had proper chairs to sit on AND would take reservations. This is a lot more difficult than it sounds and after our first booking rang us on the morning of our reservation to say their ovens were broken, it was all family members to battle stations to find somewhere else!

Queue our reservation at Pachamama. Booking made, we grabbed my parents and leisurely strolled towards it. Leisurely because my mum is a magpie or to use Dan's fave (and my most loathed) analogy she's a magnet in a spoon shop. Almost everything we passed by we had to stop and examine, I don't mind it makes you a proud Londoner (albeit part time) when someone is complimenting it every 5 minutes as opposed to the usual I don't know how you could live in London speech (we've heard it, we love London, get over it). Anyway cutting a long waffle short that's how we ended up late for our reservation.

Maybe it's because Pachamama had recently opened and were eager to please, or because I'd emailed in advance and told them I had two elderly relatives coming (sorry mum!) or they are just really nice, but what we experienced was some of the best service I've ever had, if not the best. We were welcomed, shown to our table (which I was positively sure we would have lost as we'd been running so late) and were sipping on cocktails in no time. Mum or as we call her Mama T had to go for the Mama's Pisco a rather fruity number with raspberries, orange and lime. Wondering what Pisco is? Me too, so I googled it (you're welcome) it's a type of refined brandy made in Peru and other places. I also went for a Pisco cocktail because you know when in Lima do as the Peruvians do, mine was a Chilli Pisco Sour and it was all of those things. I'll be honest I switched to beer afterwards because I fell victim to the strength of this drink, definitely not for the faint hearted. The men drank beer, in glasses of course...we're not animals (we are, we all are).

Brown Crab and Yuca Churros

 Cornish Seabass, Samphire and Tiger's Milk Ceviche

Yellow Tuna, XO and Pickled Potato Ceviche

Whole Seabass Frito with Chimichurri 

Following on from our Pisco discovery was the food. As I said Pachamama serves Peruvian fusion plates, focusing on the aspect of sharing. This is my favourite type of dining, I love sharing food and us all digging in. We did have side plates for us to use but they fell to the wayside as we fought over some of the tastier dishes, which leads me on to the first dish or 'snack' Brown Crab and Yuca Churros. I love churros. They're probably my favourite street food (BIG praise) but never had I ever had a savoury one before. Oh My Lord this churro will change your life, it changed mine (I'm enlightened now, and more refined). It's soft and crabby on the inside, crispy on the outside, and rolled in salt and sugar it's a miracle in choux pastry form. There's a lot of great dishes at Pachamama but this is the reason why you'll wake up in the night with wet sheets craving to go back. Trust me, order the churros.

Moving on we went for some 'Sea' options (the menu's split into Land, Sea and Soil, easy dining for veggies and pescatarians alike as you know what's suitable is all confined in one place). The Cornish Seabass, Samphire and Tiger's Milk Ceviche was refreshing from the lime in the Tiger's Milk (FYI not real tiger's milk) and fresh. I've eaten this flavour combination a lot recently and it doesn't get old. We also went for a Yellow Tuna, XO (strong chilli shrimp sauce like tamarind except without any tamarind) and Pickled Potato Ceviche which was incredibly different to the other ceviches I've had, the flavour was strong but not overpowering and the potato which I thought would be a bit gross was delicious, we were left trying to scrape up the sauce it was so good. But the one that had us going tooth and nail at each other was the Whole Seabass Frito with Chimichurri. Picture this, a whole deep fried seabass with a pungent parsley, lemon and chilli chimichurri (my lazy go to condiment recipe at home), juicy, plump flakes of seabass with crispy skin on the side left me thinking I need to deep fry whole fish more often. Served on the bone, it won't be for fussy eaters but it's perfect for a fish lover like me.

Grilled Plantain, Malt and Olive

Warm Quinoa, Garden Peas and Summer Truffle

Fried Aubergine, Smoked Yogurt and Pecans

Soil wise, I could have picked any one of the veggie dishes. However, we narrowed it down trying the Grilled Plantain, Malt and Olive which although nice, I'd pass by next time. The Warm Quinoa, Garden Peas and Summer Truffle was a hit, refreshing simple clean flavours with a nice bit of nuttiness and crunch. And my fave, the Fried Aubergine, Smoked Yogurt and Pecans whose smoky yoghurt sauce won my heart, you could smother that sauce on anything (anything? ANYTHING!) and I'd eat it.

Crispy Lamb Belly with Jalapeno and Green Miso 

Beef Short Rib drowned in Wild Garlic

Land also got a look in with the Crispy Lamb Belly with Jalapeno and Green Miso, and the Beef Short Rib drowned in Wild Garlic. Both courses were good, but they weren't my favourites. To be honest, I was hugely disappointed with the Beef Short Rib. You could tell the meat was good and it flaked nicely but you couldn't really taste it over its bath of wild garlic puree. Don't get me wrong I'm a heavy handed garlic fan and I cook with wild garlic whenever I can get hold of it (hello recipe plug for Wild Garlic Pesto and Wild Garlic, Beetroot and Goats Cheese Tart) but it was just too much. Poured all over the beef short rib, the meat didn't stand a chance. Hopefully they've fixed this dish because it has a lot of potential to be scrumptious.

 Plate of Small Bites of Chocolate Truffles and Plaintain Marshmallows

 Strawberry & Sorrel Suspiro de Limena

Chewy White Chocolate, Rhubarb and Basil

I don't always order a pudding, queue shock and horror, but I'd normally rather have another savoury plate, in this instance crab churros. However, even though we were all so full I could tell my mum wanted one (she's my excuse for being greedy) so we ordered a few to share between us. A plate of small bites of chocolate truffles and plaintain marshmallows was devoured graciously, but the scrapping started again when faced with Strawberry & Sorrel Suspiro de Limena, with meringue, macerated strawberries and a sorrel granita there's no way I can describe the complex flavours except outing it as the best high class pud I've had. Next to this was Chewy White Chocolate, Rhubarb and Basil, a nice novelty that my rents hadn't seen before. Both desserts were refreshing and delicious, if we hadn't have been family I would have fought my Mum and her boyfriend to the death in order to eat them all to myself (and Dan).
But you know blood is thicker than dessert...only just.

My only negative about Pachamama and to be fair for me it's a fairly big one, is that as soon as it hit 9pm, the restaurants music got so loud and electronic it felt like we were sitting in a club, and FYI I hate clubbing. Then people started coming in for dinner, who didn't have bookings and they were just waiting round the tables chatting and pushing up against us. It would have been nice to have been forewarned if this is a regular occurrence at Pachamama, especially because I told them I was with some more senior members of my family but then by 9pm we were just polishing off dessert and we left fairly sharpish afterwards. Overall the food was so good, definitely the best we've had this far!

This post has been a long time coming, excuses aside I just couldn't stomach writing about it last week as I was cursed by the dreaded Norovirus (two words projectile vomiting) and now we're off to Iceland! Can't wait, so excited to try loads of new things and just chill out! I loved Pachamama despite the club vibe and are keen to go again soon, if you've been let me know what your favourite thing to order was below. More importantly have you been to Pachamama for brunch? It's high on my to do list. Supposed to be incredible. Too many good brunch places not enough time. 

To Reykjavik we go!

p.s don't worry I've packed my real camera! No more bad phone photos on this blog!

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