Love them or hate them, pop-ups are here to stay. Where some people are frustrated with those two little words that seem to ‘pop-up’ (excuse the pun) before any new foodie venture, I have definitely warmed to them. Don’t get me wrong, some versions of pop-ups use those two little words to jump on the band-wagon and to seem ‘cool and trendy’, while simultaneously taking out a two year lease on a property (two years is a good innings for a London restaurant and in ‘pop-up years’ make Prince Phillip a bachelor) – a pop-up this is not. But the one thing I love, in this time of subliminal messaging, product placement and 7 minute ad-breaks during primetime is the choice. That is – we decide whether or not the food is good enough for permanency on the London foodie scene. The ones that come and go clearly haven’t had the right ingredients to capture our imaginations. The ones that stand the test have earned the right to have their names above the door. The owners of these pop-ups have worked long hours, had to spend time serving customers, setting up stands, early starts and late finishes, dealing with difficult venue owners, and potentially the most difficult of all – finding someone who will have them. So love them or hate them, this version of pop-ups at least deserve our respect. Hats off to them – many of them have quit their jobs to pursue a passion and, possibly the more admirably, share with us something they have created themselves (and usually at an absolute steal). Self-starters will always have a soft-spot with me but with food, there are just so many things that can potentially go wrong. So having witnessed Senor Ceviche Founder, Harry Edmeades take it from a ‘three-times-a-week’ food pop-up at The Imperial Arms, Chelsea, to having it’s own beautifully designed Kingly Court (so hot right now) restaurant, with open kitchen, cocktail bar and a strong team of staff; I was extremely keen to see where time had taken them.
Senor Ceviche can be found on the first floor of Kingly Court. This quaint square has gone through a remarkable transformation over the last couple of years – from a place tourists seemed to go to with the sole purpose of resting their ankles to a hub of destination restaurants for all Londoners. The first thing you notice when you arrive, unsurprisingly, is the décor – they have gone for a rustic exposed wood panelling Latin-American shack motif, covered by brightly coloured posters and slogans. This combination creates an authentic South-American feel but with an understated and natural charm. The open-kitchen (I am always a fan of open kitchens), where diners can also sit, unleashes a dizzyingly appetising spectrum of smells that can turn the peckish to the famished; the sound of the cocktail bartenders shaking cocktails adds that unmistakable atmosphere of a London bar and the lively Latin music completes a great first impression.
For someone that doesn’t seem to know how shut-up about food, I’m terrible at deciding on what to eat at restaurants. But every now and again the menu kind of decides for you. This was certainly the case at Senor Ceviche with one of the most epic names for any dish I’ve ever seen – ‘SUPER CHICKEN’ (£8.50). This isn’t the most modestly named dishes I’ve ever had but it was certainly the most aptly named. Using the cut of the chicken I have always found to have more flavour, thigh, this dish really was super. The char added the BBQ flavour synonymous with Latin American flavours, the marinade gave the dish a spicy and exotic edge and the rocotto mayonnaise gave the dish an extra layer of sweetness. Next up on the ‘must-order list’ was the ‘Chifa Chicharonnes’ (Slow cooked, crispy pork belly with seet soy sauce - £5). A great version of one of my all-time favourite dishes, the pork-belly was just the right amount of crispy – hard enough for a crunch, not too hard that it kicks the crap out of your gums. The pork was packed with flavour, tender and just the way this dish should be. Our Ceviche option the title role of the menu ‘Senor Ceviche’ (Sea bream ceviche with aji Amarillo tiger’s milk, avocado & tempura baby squid £8). Now I’ve only ever had Ceviche once and it put me off until now. Where before the dished resembled sushi drowning in lemon flavoured water, this version had complexity, depth and noticeable flavour.
The Pachamanca Pork Ribs (Slow cooked belly ribs in a sticky aji Amarillo BBQ sauce £8) are another must-order for meat-eaters. Big enough to double as a cricket bat and tasty enough to cause some seriously tense ‘last-bite’ moments (If you like ribs order one for yourself, you won’t want to share). Other dishes of note include… well basically everything on the menu. Partiularly the Flat Iron Anticuchos (Beef skewers with aji panca anticucho sauce £8); Tamarind BBQ Chicken Anticuchos (Chicken skewers with sticky tamarind BBQ sauce & aji Amarillo anticucho sauce £7.50) – I could go on but I’m sure you get the theme… everything is good here. And the menu reads so well that you’re sure to make a swift return to take on what you haven’t yet tried.
The drinks menu reads just as well. There’s something for all preferences – cocktails, mocktails, wine, sparkling wine, soft drinks. The Pisco Sour is the signature drink here and is the perfect ‘menu-reading drink’ to kick start proceedings. The rest of the cocktails compliment the dishes very well – The Mamacita will hit your for six, if you’re not adept at handling a spicy kick. If you fancy a wine with your meal – there’s a great selection of New World wines that start at £19 and most of which are available by the glass.
In closing – Senor Ceviche is a great spot. A charming and lively spot that would suit any occasion – from dates to dinner with mates, the variety of the menu is sure to keep all diners pleased (as well as being open from lunch to late throughout the week). Friendly staff, and great grub in a cool setting – Senor Ceviche passed the pop-up test with flying colours, the same can certainly be said for their new home!
MORE ON SENOR CEVICHE
Read our interview with Senor Ceviche founder and owner Harry Edmeades
Ceck out our venue page on Senor Ceviche
For Opening time, addresses, menus and more details.