For the flavours of South America, amazing Pisco sours and the creamiest, zingiest ceviche in London head to Marylebone High Street’s newest restaurant Pachamama
Pachamama is the latest Peruvian restaurant to open in London, on Marylebone High Street. If it wasn’t for a bright pink neon ‘A’ highlighting the venue you’d be likely to walk straight past the restaurant, which is a funny thing because if you’d been inside you’d realise just how much Pachamama stands out from the crowd of pristine boutiques and neat beauticians that it shares a road with.
Once through the hidden doors and down the stairs I was immediately struck by the lively South American atmosphere. Chatter and music filled the room. In one corner a bearded DJ simultaneously played clubby music and greeted his friends with lots of kisses and hand gestures. In another, handsome bar men expertly mix pisco sours, while all around the restaurant tables buzzed with excitement, and it was contagious.
Pachamama’s interiors are just as unselfconscious. The blend of urban industrial and Grandma’s living room shouldn’t work, but it does. Shabby chic dressers are lined with overflowing pots of herbs, while shiny red metro tiles decorate the bar and trails of silver piping carve their path across the ceiling. It’s eccentric without being contrived and immediately made me feel at home.
Getting straight to the task in hand, I ordered a Papa’s Pisco (Pisco, lemon, egg white and Amargo Chuncho), it was one of the best I’ve had in London, whoever whipped the egg white would make Delia proud, I could have (almost) turned it upside down without losing a drop. Underneath, a fresh lemon cocktail with balanced spice quenched my Thursday night thirst. Pachamama does various other Pisco-based cocktails too, there’s Mama’s Pisco (Pisco, fresh raspberry, mint, orange juice) and Eau de Lima (Pisco, orange juice, Mandarine Napoleon, passion fruit, Amargo Chunco) among them.
Food is made for sharing and in such a familial setting I would expect nothing less. Our friendly waiteress pointed out the house specialities and we followed her lead. First up two portions of creamy, zingy and bold ceviche that packed a serious flavour punch. There are six variations to choose from, we went for wild Cornish sea bass ceviche with samphire, radish, sweet potato and tiger’s milk and chilled prawns with garden peas, mint and wasabi tiger’s milk (not actually from the tiger, this is the citrus-based marinade that cures the seafood in ceviche).
Next we went for meat from the Josper Oven – a hybrid grill/oven/barbecue that uses coal and gives a lovely smoky flavour. The 28-day Aged Dexter ribeye soaked up the smoke beautifully, it was tender and pink, and the combination of charcoal flavours with the soft texture of the meat was delicious. Similarly, the crispy lamb belly with miso and green aji sauce had exactly the right balance of zest from the sauce, which complemented, but didn’t overpower the taste of the lamb. Quinoa salad with avocado, Granny Smith, tomato and a coriander vinaigrette accompanied the meat and, again, each ingredient was well-thought out and worked perfectly with the other.
Leaving room for dessert is paramount when visiting Pachamama, we were dangerously close to missing out on the chocolate fondant with brittle and salted peanut ice cream, which would have been a travesty. It was perfect. The chocolate fondant oozing in the middle, the brittle cracked easily but not too easily and I am still dreaming about the salted peanut ice cream. If I sound too emphatic perhaps I have caught a little of the passion of South America, which wouldn’t be hard to do at Pachamama, as it’s positively bursting with it.
Pachamama is open for lunch and dinner, from Monday to Friday 12 noon-3pm and 6pm-midnight; Saturday 11am-3pm and 6pm-midnight and Sunday 11am-3pm and 12 noon-10pm.
18 Thayer St, W1U 3JY, London; pachamamalondon.com