Tuesday, 19 April 2016

A luxurious Peruvian dinner at Coya, Mayfair

I think Peruvian food is having a bit of a moment. Or it is in my life at least.

And I couldn't have had a better introduction to the cuisine than a visit to the oh-so-amazing Mayfair restaurant, bar and members’ club, Coya.

As soon as I walked through the door, I was wowed. The upstairs is the private members’ club – I had a nosy, it was very swanky – and downstairs you find the restaurant and Pisco bar.
I found the interior design totally unique: it was Latin American but with London elegance, luxurious yet somehow dilapidated, edgy but glam. There was a real juxtaposition but it worked, with colonial touches, metallic finishes and lots of textures. I liked it.

Situated right on Piccadilly but with a discreet entrance, you wouldn’t know it was there unless you knew, if you get me.

I arrived on a bright, early spring evening and made my way down to the restaurant and bar to meet the lovely Leah and Katherine. Although we were on the lower level, there was a still lots of bright daylight shining through, and it’s not the type of place that only comes alive once the sun goes down.

Now, I have to apologise once more because my camera is still in the repair shop so I’m using a combination of PR shots and fuzzy ones from my tragic iPhone 4 (seriously, new iPhone, could you get a shift on and be delivered already?).

We kicked things off, as one should on a Tuesday evening, with cocktails and Champagne. I was going to try Coya’s signature Pisco Sour, but this tropical concoction was calling out to me so badly I couldn’t not answer.
The Ron Jeremias: Pampero Blanco Rum, pineapple, passion fruit, vanilla and prosecco. It was utterly scrumptious. Possibly too sweet for most, but perfect for me, with a tasty tanginess too.

When it comes to food, the Coya way is to share lots of little dishes, tapas style. And being the diligent food blogger that I am, I figured it was best to sample as much as I could. Selfless, I know.

To start, we had crocantes con guacamole - corn tortillas and shrimp crackers with homemade guacamole. Hands down, the best guac I've ever had. It was just the perfect consistency. Scrumptious.

Then we moved on to our starters (after the pre-starter, natch). We had a couple of different ceviche dishes...
These weren't my faves of the night because, well, ceviche is traditionally made with raw fish or seafood of which I am not a fan, but I tried a tomato bit and the sauce and it was definitely packed with flavour.

We had calamares fritos - calamari to me and you - next. And although it's not something I usually choose, this was top-notch calamari. It was so crisp and flavoursome.

And seeing as you can't go to a Peruvian restaurant and skip the classics, we shared some mini tacos too. Look! So cute and mini!
We had the asparagus with truffle ones. I mean, truffle. Need I say more? These were little flavour explosions with such a fab mix of textures.

And it's not all fish and veggies at Coya - hellooooo, chicken skewers!
These were gorgeously marinated in garlic and spice and the meat was perfectly tender.

So, on to the main courses - yes, all that had been the starter!

There was sea bass...
Like I said, I'm not a fish fan. But, because I will always (well, to an extent) try things, I did try this sea bass. Oh my days. You guys, it wasn't even fishy in the slightest! It was buttery and delicious with crisp, caramelised edges. Be proud, parents.

We also shared the pollo asado (corn-fed baby chicken, which I presume does not mean chicks) and papa seca (Peruvian potatoes, butternut squash and poached egg, cooked in an iron pot).
Both these dishes were sensational. The chicken, on a bed of roast veggies, was just so juicy and flavoursome. And the potatoes may just have been my favourite dish of them all - real comfort food. And butternut squash is basically my bae so that was always going to go down well.

​Conveniently, all three of us are gals who enjoy our veggies, and the veggie side dishes at Coya certainly don't play second fiddle to the meat and fish. We enjoyed Japanese aubergine skewers cooked with miso and sesame (not sure how Peruvian that is but I'll go with it) as well as tenderstem broccoli with garlic and chilli. The broccoli was a smidge on the crunchy side for my liking but both dishes were lovely.

I loved how we shared everything too - it created a fun, informal atmosphere that's perfect for a party and is great for indecisive people like me who can never decide what to order.

Luckily the girls were up for sharing puddings too!
At the back of the above snap, you're looking at a pumpkin cheesecake with caramelised pecans. Now, I don't usually choose cheesecake but the prospect of pumpkin was just too intriguing. Oh my days, this was sensational! Pumpkin and pecan is a winning combo and can we all just appreciate the presentation? Beautiful.

Pudding number two was salted caramel chocolate ganache with berries and raspberry sorbet:
This was absolutely divine. V indulgent, but I loved the combo of salted caramel, sweet chocolate and slightly tart berries. The ganache was so smooth too. Dreamy.

And finally, the corn sundae with sweetcorn ice cream and popcorn.
I know, right? I love sweetcorn so couldn't resist trying this. It was yummy and definitely different, although it didn't quite match up to the other two in my eyes.

Oof, by this point we were three full ladies! When sharing little dishes it's sort of hard to tell how much you're eating, don't you find? Luckily there was fresh mint tea on hand to help us digest.

It had been a decadent and delicious evening and was a real treat. As you might have guessed from its Mayfair location, the prices do not make a visit to Coya an everyday occurrence for most people. It's definitely somewhere you'd go for a treat - look into it the next time you need somewhere for a special celebration dinner, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I also heard on the grapevine that on 1st May, Coya's launching a new Sunday Brunch with live music, interactive food stations including a guacamole counter(!), where fresh guac will be ground by hand especially to taste, AND there'll also be unlimited Champagne, Peruvian Punch and Bloody Marys.

Sounds epic, right? I don't imagine it's going to be the most bargainous brunch in London but doesn't it sound spectacular? The brunch scene is pretty big in London so I like that Coya is doing something a little different.

Who wants to take me?

I was fortunate enough to be a guest at Coya but my opinions are 100% honest, promise. Find out more on their website.

What do you think?!

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