A taste of South America
Ceviche is now popular around the world but it originated Peru and Ecuador. It’s mostly made from the freshest of raw fish. It isn’t actually cooked, but cured in fresh citrus juices, spices and chopped onions, salt, and coriander. The name is thought to have come from the Quechuan word siwichi.
Many of us will have already enjoyed small plates of ceviche. It’s a perfect starter or as nibbles with drinks. It’s healthy, fresh and delicious. But Crudo has elevated this dish to a main course, and it’s appealing to all of us who want flavour, texture and something a little different.
Crudo is London’s first Build-your-own Ceviche Bowl restaurant chain. They provide fast, healthy and budget-friendly food to Londoners. There are two sites, and we visited the Old Street branch (there is another in Fitzrovia). This contemporary, small yet marvellously appointed eatery is surrounded by new offices whose workers I am sure appreciate Crudo.
Cocktails and ceviche
This is a casual spot with just a few tables inside and more outside (when iffy English weather allows). The takeaway menu is popular here for the lunch-seekers, but a little later the crowds have diminished and one can enjoy an unhurried bite.
We began with a brace of South American cocktails along with a bowl of Peruvian cancha corn. They might look like peanuts but no, they are kernels of roasted corn, and they work so well with drinks. I was tempted by an iconic Pisco Sour. Pisco is a South American grape brandy mostly produced in Peru and Chile. The cocktail is made from the spirit along with lime juice, egg white and Angostura bitters, which are all shaken or blended together to create a light and frothy beverage served in a coupe.
My guest ordered a Ron and Papelón con limón. This should be the drink of choice for any rum lover. It’s made with Diplomático Planas rum, sugarcane, lime and lemonade. The perfect balance of sweet and sharp.
Our starters were Guacamole and tortilla chips, and Pastel de Choclo. This was new to me. I have had savoury corn cakes before, but these were particularly flavourful and sweet from the corn, and served with feta cheese and pico de gallo sauce. This should be a signature appetiser here.
But we were keen to taste Crudo’s bowls. They didn’t disappoint. All ceviches are marinated with red onion, red chilli and coriander. The Clásico was a substantial serving of sea bass with Tradicional leche de tigre, quinoa, avocado, sweet potato and more cancha corn, along with crunchy plantain chips. A substantial meal.
The Aguachile bowl was my companion’s pick. It was a melange of tiger prawn, quinoa and lettuce, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, jalapeños and corn tortilla chips. This was also pronounced a winner.
Crudo Cevicheria Old Street ticks so many boxes. It’s a couple of steps from the Underground and fleets of buses. It’s cosy and convivial, but it’s the quality of the food which will assure your return visit – and the success of this small restaurant.
Crudo Old Street
211C Old Street
Tues – Wed: 12:00 am – 9:00 pm
Thurs – Sat 12:00 am – 10:00 pm