Pachamama is Marylebone’s (relatively) recent contribution to London’s growing Peruvian food scene. Following the success of Chotto Matte, Ceviche and Michelin-star winning Lima, the South American country’s cuisine is ever growing in popularity, with its array of small and shareable dishes alongside classics such as ceviche, with a few Pisco Sours to accompany.
Decorated as an eccentric Colonial family home, the restaurant itself feels a bit like an old-fashioned hacienda. With earthy wooden tables and exposed brick walls, the interior is shabby chic but thoughtfully detailed, with lots of space and plenty of seating, as well as two private dining rooms. It’s surprisingly busy on a Monday evening, but still feels a lot less like a bar than its Soho equivalents.
What gives Pachamama an edge from its fellow Peruvian eateries is its focus on using classic British homegrown ingredients. Head Chef Tom Catley has impressive credentials; previously head chef at Ottolenghi, Nathan Outlaw and Peyton & Byrne, he has also worked alongside Rick Stein before his time at Amaz, a renowned restaurant in Lima. For his venture into Peruvian cuisine, he’s chosen to adapt traditional dishes for the British taste buds, using the highly acclaimed Josper Oven and Robata grill. This makes for an interesting menu – featuring horseradish, brussel sprouts and butternut squash, combined with the most basic of native ingredients such as corn and plantain.
The menu is divided into Snacks (appetizer dishes), followed by Land, Sea and Soil for main courses, and Sweets for desert. In terms of size, the appetizer’s didn’t feel much smaller than the mains – we’d recommend picking a couple of plates from each section.
To start, we shared the Padron peppers, a favourite of mine, and the Salt & Aji squid, which was a step above your usual calamari and served with a garlic sauce. Though I hate to admit it, I’m not a huge fan of Ceviche – so we opted for the Yellowtail tuna served with soy and pickled potato, asparagus in saffron yolk and peanuts. Both were fresh and delicious, and after much deliberating over the meat section, we followed the friendly waitress’s recommendation of chicken anticuchos. This went down particularly well – slightly spicy, the meat was juicy and served with a sweet charred corn puree, and probably the most classically Peruvian dish of the evening.
However it was the crispy lamb belly that was undoubtedly the most memorable. The meat itself was salty and flavoured, crispy on the outside and incredibly tender and fatty on the inside, most likely the result of the Josper Oven which grills the meat on both sides. Served with miso and a spicy but creamy green aji sauce, it almost dissolved on the tongue, making it one of the best dishes I’ve had in some time. If there is one piece of advice for a visit to Pachamama, the lamb belly is a must order.
To drink we opted for a twist on the Peruvian classic – the Papa’s Pisco made of pisco brandy (the national spirit of Peru) with lime, egg white and amargo chuncho. That’s another great thing about Pachamama, the selection of innovative cocktails and a welcoming bar area also makes it the perfect place to visit for some drinks.
What is most impressive about Pachamama is its ability to make such innovative dishes feel perfectly at ease, in an atmosphere that is equally as relaxed in comparison to the hustle and bustle of similar eateries elsewhere in London. By combining such an interesting array of quality ingredients, the menu remains authentic while utilising carefully source British ingredients. For anyone who enjoys Peruvian cuisine, Pachamama should be near the top of your list with its offering of high quality, adventurous food in a warm and characterful setting.
18 Thayer Street
Nearest Tube: Bond Street
Phone: +44 (0)20 7935 9393