Paul Dunn found flavours that took him to the other side of the globe and back at Pachamama
Pachamama is the name of the Inca goddess who presides over planting and harvesting. And she certainly presides over this eponymous Peruvian restaurant in Marylebone. We arrived midweek for a late lunch to find a bright basement eaterie with dishes that are cheap and very generous, combining Peruvian flavours with British ingredients
Our excellent waitress guided us through the menu. We spurned large plates, and selected ‘snacks’ (very big snacks, £5) ‘small plates’ (definitely not small, £6) and ‘ceviche’ (small portions were like mains, (£9) from the lunch menu. A smiliar menu is subdivided into sea, soil and earth for dinner.
We started with a drink: Mama’s pisco. It was more like a julep, too much ice and not enough liquor. The Coteaux de languedoc Mas Puech Picpoul de Pinet, £19 for carafe and Cusqueña craft beer sufficed instead.
On paper the menu looked a little heavy. We were wrong. We snacked on beef short rib croquetas: surprisingly light and delicate, before moving to the sea. Cornish Salmon ceviche, pickled beetroot, avocado, again sounded heavy but was zesty zingy and light.
The Brixham crab ceviche and Jersey Royals, aided by the crispy seaweed and fresh herbs, also had a lightness of touch that only a chef with the excellence of Adam Rawson (Claridge’s and Viajanate) could execeute.
The Incan goddess then gave us a dish from the earth, with flavours that took us to the other side of the globe and back: aubergine, smoked yoghurt and pecans: a long spicy voyage that ended started in Peru and ended India.
The pollo frito was served pink with tiger’s milk slaw, aioli and coriander. We were unsure if rare chicken was the intention, but we devoured more great textures with gusto.
By then if needed any further confirmation that head chef Adam Rawson worked at Nuno Mendez’ Viajante, we only needed to check the brunch menu: quinoa waffles with Devonshire clotted cream & Yacon syrup and beef short Rib porridge with Peruvian kimchi & Burford brown egg.
For dessert we selected suspiro de limena, strawberry & sorrel served in a champagne goblet. It sounded and looked like a Dario Argento horror film: bloody strawberry on meringue frosting with passion fruit pips sneaking up on us halfway through. Superb.
Pachamama is revered by the indigenous people of the Andes. And this restaurant should be revered by the natives of London: it is divine.
Pachamama, 18 Thayer Street, London W1U 3JY