Review-Coya

COYA                                  Mayfair

 


 

118 Piccadilly, London W1J 7NW

020 7042 7118/www.coyarestaurant.com/
Coya

Coya

When I grow up I think I want to be Arjun Waney. He is the restaurateur behind many of London’s more glamorous joints, creating stylish spaces with food that takes a concept and then runs with it-all perfectly attuned to the wealthier end of the London market. Whether it’s Japanese at Zuma and Roka, Provençal at Le Petit Maison, Italian  at Banca and now Peruvian at Coya his locations and menus are grown up and sophisticated without being stuffy in any way.
Coya artwork

Coya artwork

After a slightly chaotic start to our lunch with Google Maps sending us to the wrong end of Piccadilly, we descended into the surprisingly large and airy basement that Coya inhabits.
IMG_1601
The Ceviche Bar and Open Charcoal Grill are blended in to provide some theatre.
Charcoal Grill

Charcoal Grill

The look is ethnic Peruvian chic contrasting with London’s other Peruvian hangouts-Ceviche’s street cool and Lima’s urban style.
The bar at Coya

The bar at Coya

 To celebrate our arrival we downed a couple of perfectly mixed Pisco Sours. They were so good with their trademark citrus kick that we decided against ordering any wine and stuck with them through most of the meal.
Pisco Sour

Pisco Sour

Peruvian food brings together influences from the indigenous population as well as from the Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Italian and West African immigrant communities. Coya’s food concept is based around sharing plates with several menus covering different styles and our waiter suggested ordering one from each.
Lubina Clasico

Lubina Clasico

We started from the Ceviche menu with the Lubina Clasico-Sea Bass, red onions, sweet potato, white corn (£8). Ceviche is a Peruvian staple-raw fish marinated for a short amount of time in citrus juice spiced with chilli (aji in Spanish). This was as good to eat as it was to look at-the fish was very fresh and full of flavour and not overwelmed by the chilli in the tiger’s milk dressing.

Conchas de Abanico

Conchas de Abanico

Our next dish was Conchas de Abanico (£12) from the Tiraditos menu.  Tiradito is a serving of raw fish, similar to a carpaccio or sashimi and served in a hot sauce but with no onions. Our dish contained scallops, carrot, ginger and  coriander cress and again had that delicious  citrus and chilli combination.
Calamares Fritos con Ocopa

Calamares Fritos con Ocopa

From the Para Picar (small dishes) menu Calamares Fritos con Ocopa (£8.50) (Baby Squid, Peruvian Marigold, Quinoa) were well battered and came with a delicious green sauce made with Peruvian marigold which tastes similar to mint and is known as Huacatai.

Setas

Setas

Anticuchos are skewers of meat,fish or vegetable cooked over a charcoal grill. We chose Setas (£4.50)-Forest mushrooms, aji mirasol and parsley which turned out to be a highlight of the meal. They were wonderfully rich and meaty with a slight taste of cumin.

Josper charcoal grill

Josper charcoal grill

Moving at this point onto raspberry and mango Pisco sours we moved on to the Josper charcoal grill section of the menu. Originating from Spain, the Josper grill is fast becoming a mainstay of kitchens in many of the restaurants and steakhouses in London. It can reach temperatures of over 300 degrees celsius, gives a good char to the food  and because the grill is enclosed, the fish, meat or vegetables being cooked retain their moisture and flavour.

Langostino Tigre

Langostino Tigre

Hopefully you can see from the picture that my Langostino Tigre (£27) -Tiger prawns, chilli salsa-achieved the holy grail of grilling, char and tenderness without drying out.

My dining companion the redoubtable Fiona from London Unattached  gets very excited at the prospect of South American steak and so chose the Lomo de Res (£29) -Rib eye, chimichurri, aji rocoto salsa-which also benefitted from the caress of the Josper. South Americans like their steak cooked medium and this was a classic combination with the parsley based chimichurri sauce (a salsa verde with added chilli) and the fierce heat of the rocoto pepper salsa which she pronounced delicious.

 

Esparragos Peruanos

Esparragos Peruanos

For our sides we had Esparragos Peruanos (£6) -Peruvian asparagus, panca chilli, garlic-which had been grilled to within an inch of their life but were full of flavour, and Patatas Bravas a la Peruana (£5)-Crisp potatoes, spicy tomatoes, huancaina sauce-.

Patatas Bravas a la Peruana

Patatas Bravas a la Peruana

The Patatas Bravas were given a Peruvian slant with the addition of huancaina sauce-a mix of amarillo chillies, queso fresco (fresh farmers cheese), milk, garlic and saltine crackers that managed to be creamy at  the same time as having a spicy edge to its flavour.

Chocolate Fundido

Chocolate Fundido

Having eaten a lot by this point it would have been churlish not to have dessert, and with our Pisco sours finished the matched dessert wines seemed like a very attractive prospect. The Chocolate Fundido (£8) -Fortunato Chocolate, almond, white chocolate ice cream-was perfectly complemented by the glass of Maury, Mas Mudigliza, Rousillon, France 2009 (£14). The hot melted (fundido) chocolate oozed in a rather sexy manner out of and all over the chocolate sponge but without overwhelming the wine, made from the grenache grape by the vin doux naturel method of mutage where wine is fortified with unfermented grape juice and grape spirit.

Lucuma Bavarois,Passion Fruit Sorbet

Lucuma Bavarois, Passion Fruit Sorbet

Our second dessert was a Lucuma Bavarois, Passion Fruit Sorbet (£8). This was paired with a Gewurztraminer Vendage Tardive Hugel, Alsace, France 2000 (£12). The Lucuma was described to us as a cross between mango and avocado and is known for its dry flesh, with the texture of a hard-boiled egg yoke. This was an altogether lighter proposition, sweet and refreshing and beautifully set off by the floral notes of the wine.

I’m slowly starting to get a grip on aspects of South American food and drink. There has been such an explosion of restaurant openings and the concomitant interest in Mexican, Argentinian, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine that it must be on the radar of anyone interested in the contemporary scene. The combination of citrus and chilli with raw seafood, the new varieties of potato and corn, the use of the charcoal grill and the ubiquitous Pisco sour are all starting to enter our food consciousness. In the firmament of this welcome South American culinary invasion Coya stands out as a very classy act. As with all of Arjun Waney’s projects the level of investment is there to be seen; in the location, the size and specification of the kitchens and the standard of finish for the interior. Whilst we were there on a quiet Monday lunch it is easy to imagine the place really buzzing with good looking South Americans and London’s well-heeled enjoying the cultural and culinary adventure that the restaurant offers. Did I have any complaints? Well, my teapot for my mint tea clearly thought it was a watering can, managing to shower the table quite effectively, but apart from that Coya was perfect.

The Hedonist was a guest of Coya.

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Square Meal

5 / 5 stars     

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