It always brings back memories of my old job when I’m able to pop back to Fitzrovia and sample the culinary delights in the area and for this occasion it was an evening of Peruvian cuisine. What used to be a local cafe on the corner has now been turned into Pisqu, which the name symbolises the birthplace of Peru’s national drink – Pisco sour.
William Ortiz is head chef and he’s actually the younger brother of the top chef behind Lima which in fact sits opposite William’s first solo venture. Clearly good Peruvian food runs in the family. William has a glittering CV having worked at The Savoy, The Dorchester and The Berkeley before moving over to Lima. There are no hard feelings between the brothers and William is hoping to find his own identity with Pisqu.
We stepped in and were welcomed by the very friendly staff who were absolute stars throughout the evening, always an important factor for any new restaurant to make sure the service is spot on and can safely say it was.
The menu is split out into fish, meat and vegetable / side dishes and as tends to be the case with Peruvian food they are very much going for the concept of share all the dishes. The majority of the menu is gluten free which is pretty important these days for a lot of people, so they’ll be catering for a large market in giving this option.
Of course we couldn’t continue our evening without starting with a round of pisco sours, as expected absolutely delicious.
For the fish selection we had the sashimi cut salmon, ponzu, rocoto chilli, tiger’s milk, which was excellent. Wafer thin fish delicate in it’s presentation but yet not losing the important flavours coming through.
Our second selection was the ceviche pisqu, which comprised of sea bass, sweet potato, lime, coriander, tiger’s milk, Inca corn. Large chunky pieces of sea bass surrounded by a zingy thin sauce that compliment the fish wonderfully.
Our third smaller dish was the chicken empanada, always a winner in my eyes meaty flavours incased in flaky pastry. Our little bit of naughty from the otherwise very healthy menu.
Now onto the rest of the meat choices, anticucho de pollo, succulent chicken skewers marinated in chilli anticucho sauce.
Then perhaps the highlight of the evening the lomo saltado, beef stir fry with rice and chips. Sounds simpler than it looked, and of course these weren’t just any chips but wonderful Yucas, crispy cassava chips. Cassava is a starchy root vegetable that grows in warm climates, a bit like a parsnip but with a more nutty flavour.
We sampled just one of the vegetable dishes in the form of an organic pisqu salad. Sweet potato, Inca corn, avocado, cheese, white and red quinoa, it’s all healthy right!?
Pretty full by this point but the lovely waitress suggested we try one of their signature desserts, purple corn ice cream. Purple corn is very popular back in Peru, so I’m told, and it’s meant to be a bit of a medical phenomenon, seen as being very effective in lowering blood pressure and therefore prevent hypertension. However in an ice cream it’s got a rather odd texture which to begin with is a strange one, but the more you eat the more it grows on you.
It was lovely food and hopefully William has equal success with his restaurant as has been seen with his brother’s restaurant, Lima. Now to plan a trip to Peru, as always eating the cuisine makes me want to go more and more.