Chicama is a surf resort in Peru. It is also a rather fabulous restaurant in Chelsea’s World’s End where they serve Peru’s national dish, Ceviche. Ceviche is basically raw fish cured in a lemon or lime juice and spiced with chilli peppers. Often it is eaten together with sweet potato, popped corn, plantain or avocado. I first came across it when it was prepared for me by my oldest and very dear friend C, who came to visit me in London from South America. She laboriously shopped for all the ingredients and made a feast for the Gods in my kitchen. I have never looked back, and certainly as far as I am concerned, it is more of a World’s Beginning than its end. Ceviche is healthy, fresh, tasty and utterly moreish.
Chicama is located in salubrious company on the Kings Road, right next door to the Roberto Cavalli furniture shop and the Chelsea Truck Company. It has a sweet little outdoor pavement area, ideal for catching some sunny rays when the London weather is that way inclined. Inside, it’s all very casually contemporary with a dusty pink and powder blue colour palette, grey and white marble with copper accents and exposed cable trunking on the ceiling. Very trendy, very now but blessedly, not achingly so. Similarly, the clientele is youngish, smartly casual and relaxed. Chicama is a hip place to hang out.
Thoroughly ringing with the tune of the times as this place is, it doesn’t serve Coca Cola or bread as a matter of principle, and all the dishes come in grazing portions. Our waitress informs us that three each is about right for people with small to medium appetite. They are delivered in random order and all can be shared. We peruse the menu, our taste buds tingling in anticipation. The choices are a glorious mixture of flavour and texture, and it’s not easy to pinpoint our favourites of the moment.
Finally, the die is cast. Our favour today falls upon Courgette and Cornmeal Beignets with Herb Mayo and Chilli Jam, Sprouting Broccoli Coffee and Smoked Chilli Dip, Tuna with Avocado Jalapeño Sauce and Fried Leek and Radish, Sea Bream Ceviche with Grilled Nectarine, Radish and Jalapeño plus also a portion of Charred Sweet Potato.
How to start describing? It’s just deliciousness upon deliciousness. The beignets taste sort of lightly falafely, the little blobs of herb mayo and chilli jam really making them sing, the tuna is thinly sliced and combines beautifully with the radish, fresh chilli peppers, leek and coriander, making the entire combo excitingly summery, the sea bream swims in a tasty little soup, the corn gives it some extra crunch. The broccoli is green and crunchy. I can’t particularly taste the coffee but whatever, it’s just great, and the charred sweet potato is mushy, sweet and offers an excellent carbohydrate contrast to all the floaty lightness of the other dishes.
When it’s all devoured and every plate has almost been licked clean, I’m still a bit hungry. Or perhaps not really hungry, just greedy for more of this gorgeous food. Honestly, I think I could eat my way through the entire menu without stopping for breath once but the Lovely Husband won’t play ball. He’s being moderate and sensible and discreetly reminds me that soon I will be off on a four day beach break, when I might possibly be wanting to wear my bikini rather than a tent dress. Party pooper!
Like all good couples, we reach a compromise. We’ll have two puddings instead of just one. Yeah, that’s more like it!
We order the Sweet Potato Tart with Yoghurt, which is lovely and creamy on a good crispy base with a small zingy yoghurt puddle surrounding it. In fact, it tastes quite similar to lemon tart. Now I don’t really like beer but the Beer Icecream with Almond Sponge and Honeycomb sounds too interesting to miss. The icecream doesn’t taste much of beer apart from a very mild and not unpleasant bitter aftertaste, there are lots of honeycomb bits mixed with some spongey bits, and the whole lot sits on a wonderful Dulce de Leche. It’s incredibly sweet but good nonetheless, in a creamy, crunchy, cool way.
Sadly, we can’t have our habitual shared Americano coffee or any other coffee, for that matter, as the coffee machine is broken, but that’s just a small covfefe hiccough we can live with.
This is healthy fast food. Well ok, not the desert, I admit. The entire meal has taken just over an hour, even though there was no sense of rush at all. Normally, we’d have another glass of wine, maybe, and just chill out and enjoy the ambience but today we want to get home for this week’s episode of the Handmaid’s Tale on TV, so we ask for the bill.
At just under £80 including service charge, a glass of wine and one of beer, Chicama is quite pricey, it must be said, but I love it anyway. It has rocketed straight into my top London five and I’ll definitely be back!
What I wore
Silk dress ordered on the internet from EZpopsy, strappy red sued Dolce & Gabbana sandals, dark red vintage (1940s) crocodile handbag handed down by my mother.
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