The word about town is that no one does cocktails and healthy cuisine quite like the Peruvians, so dining as they do seems rather a good way to welcome in 2013 – “out with the old” (drinking) and “in with the new” (healthy living), in one. Happily, London’s Coya, at 118 Piccadilly – one of a handful of quality restaurants indulging the capital’s penchant for cuisine from the South American enclave – is offering a New Year’s Eve four-course menu (£200) with live music from Peruvian legend Jaime Cuadra (£50 for a bar-only reservation).
For those completely green on the subject of Peruvian cuisine, it’s not all alpaca and guinea pig; eclectic influences hail from Spain, China, Africa and Japan – think gourmet Mexican with altitude. One of its classic mainstays, the raw cured-fish delicacy of ceviche, is prepared by Coya chef Sanjay Dwivedi (formerly of Zaika, Le Caprice and The Ivy) with sea bass and yellowfin tuna, and served alongside tiraditos (similar to sashimi), anticuchos (grilled and skewered meat, second picture), rock shrimps and crayfish, with flavours such as rocoto chilli and hickory-smoked salsa. The drinks menu should also not be forgotten – pisco-based concoctions alongside special tequilas and rums – and guests will receive a complimentary cocktail and glass of champagne.
Jaime Cuadra’s pop fusion should be a pleasant surprise to anyone in the dark about Peruvian music. He went platinum in his home country with the “Peruvian Waltz Chillout” album Cholo Soy, three tracks from which appeared on the soundtrack of the Bond film Quantum of Solace. As Cuadra puts it, “I hope we can recreate the buzz of the streets in Lima.”
For those who don’t drink too much pisco, it could be a night to remember.