Ceviche Old Street
2 Baldwin Street EC1V 9NU
The deal: This is the second outpost of Martin Morales' popular Ceviche restaurant (alongside his sister place, Andina, in Shoreditch) and it's great to see the small, Soho venue has been upgraded to a far more fitting space. Like, literally - there's so many tables now, the only trouble you'll have getting one will be if they're all booked out. Quite likely, given its reputation. The team have beautifully restored the Alexandra Trust Dining Rooms (which was a popular working class Victorian place to eat and socialise) and have updated it with artwork from colourful Peruvian artists dotted all over the place. It's buzzy, it's loud and it's lively. Groups of friends gather round the tables while others are perched at the bar with a pisco sour and some cassava chips. The staff are super friendly and look like they're having a great time too. This is the most exciting thing to happen to Old Street in years.
The food: If there were one dish to warrant creating a restaurant around, it's ceviche. And their Don Ceviche (£9) is the dish that could easily launch a thousand more restaurants. It's as perfect a plate of raw fish you'll ever find this side of Peru - it's zingy-ness packs such a punch with the perfect heat of chilli underneath, the cut and texture of the seabass is beautiful and we loved the added crunch from the sweet potato crisps on top. A total showstopper. Next was the makinua (£8) a Peruvian-Japanese fusion dish of sushi studded with tuna and avocado, drizzled with tigers milk mayonnaise and tiny beetroot crisps. We headed to the grill section (La Parilla) on the menu next, starting with parilla de coliflor (£6), a 'steak' of cauliflower chargrilled which was lovely and hearty for a veggie dish, but we preferred the flavour of the tasty chickpea flour-fried florets on top, served with cumin yoghurt and almonds. And while Ceviche obviously specialises in fish, don't forget to give the meat options a go too - dig your teeth into costillas con sauco (£10), sugar-pit cured pork ribs served with bursting, fruity pomegranate pearls and on a bed of a delicious corn puree, or the bavette steak (£11) cooked just how it should be, chargrilled on the outside and pink in the middle and drenched in a spicy rocoto salsa. Dessert may not have been much of a looker, but we loved the picarones (£6) - little pumpkin doughnuts, almost like churros - drizzled with Chancaca honey and a little nibble of queso fresco and dried figs.
The signature dish: Don Ceviche. So good, they named two restaurants after it.
When to dine: The restaurant is open every day of the week, and they're open until midnight, so will be perfect for late, boozy dinners. They open an hour earlier at the weekends (11am) for brunch, too.
Damage to pocket: The restaurant recommends about four plates, each, so with drinks it'll probably be about £50 a head.
File under: Great with mates, Celebrate good times, Midweek munches, Payday blow-out