Casita Andina (Soho): where Peruvian goes gluten-free

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreWhen I heard Martin Morales, the man who kickstarted the Peruvian food revolution in London, opened another Peruvian gem called Casita Andina in Soho, I knew I had to go. Martin is the brains behind Ceviche restaurants as well as the Michelin-recommended Andina in Shoreditch.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreCasita Andina is inpsired by ‘picanterias’ or traditional family-run restaurants usually found in the old homes of Andes locals. The cooking here is a homage to Cusco cuisine in the Andes and aims to celebrate fresh, nutritious Peruvian ingredients paired with sustainable British produce. The menu is a gold mine for gluten-free eating, so if you’re up for some healthy alternatives this Summer (what?) this place is perfect.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreThe space is also peppered with all things Instagram-worthy, from textiles, contemporary art, crafts and souvenirs. It almost felt like someone’s home.

DSC09821-2Casita Andina by The Girl Next Shore

Even the toilets are given much thought from the pretty carved doors to the pretty mirrors and lighting.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreCasita Andina by The Girl Next Shore

Casita Andina took over The Little Cottage, a Soho institute and favourite of thespians, theatre performers and staff. The ground floor boasts of a lively bar serving the strongest pisco sours in town whilst the first floor has more seating and a tiny patio for  al fresco tête-à-têtes.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreI sampled the Gallo Negro (£8.5), a negroni influenced pisco cocktail whilst MB opted for the classic Pisco Sour (£8). Let me just say these aperitivos seriously kick-started the meal well. Woot!

And then the food arrived.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreThe cobia tiradito (£9) is gorgeous. Black king fish taste is quite distinct and it shone through a generous amount of pineapple tiger’s milk. It’s a testament to farmed produce, I think, as the freshness was absolutely apparent. Speckled with dustings of nori and chilli dust, I found this well balanced and substantial.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreThe Ceviche Casita (£9) was a sight to behold. Huge chunks of seabass come with avocado, sweet potato and cancha corn. The tiger’s milk is yellow as it’s made with aji amarillo chilis. They also have a classic ceviche which comes with the normal white-coloured tiger’s milk, sans avocado and corn.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreThe flavours are vibrant and refreshing, if not a teensy bit too zingy for my liking. Texture was spot on, But the fish was gorgeous and again, I commend the use of sustainable produce.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreLast of our cold plates was the watermelon quinoa salad (£5). This may not be something for savoury palates, as the chilli-pressed watermelon with lemon-almond vinaigrette comes off sweet.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreBut there’s an abundance of black quinoa, peppery watercress and queso fresco to complement the sweetness. Queso fresco is a fresh, mild, creamy cow cheese perfect for salads and summer dishes. I actually had some of it with the ceviche to balance the acidity and it was yum!

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreFirst to arrive from the hot dishes section was the pork tamal (£6.5). I was excited to see tamales on the menu and had high hopes for the dish. Casita Andina’s version had pork adobo in the corn dumpling, topped with fresh tomato salsa.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreI genuinely enjoyed the dish and thought the pork to dumpling ratio was good. The corn dumpling itself had lovely flavour and if I were a betting person, this could be a hit for lunch with a variety of fillings. If anything, I would advice people to eat it straight as it comes to keep in the heat and avoid dryness.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreThe aji de gallina (£9) came pretty, too. It’s a traditional Peruvian dish of shredded chicken in a creamy sauce made from the yellow aji amarillo chilis. Casita Andina’s offering came with hard boiled quail eggs and sauce from Botija olives, or black olives local to Peru.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreI found the dish decent enough but admittedly, it was more of a grower than love at first bite. The flavours are subtle yet distinct.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreThe rocoto rayado (£12) was a wild card as we didn’t know what to expect. All we knew was that it was a dish of skate wing, lasagna infused with aji rocoto chili and more queso fresco.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreAgain, you could definitely taste the freshness of the fish and it was delightful. I definitely liked it, but perhaps I was expecting a proper skate wing instead of a deconstructed one.

Casita Andina by The Girl Next ShoreFor dessert, we went all healthy and ordered the mango, chia & chicha pot (£5). I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did because I’m a chocoholic at heart. However, the fruity concoction satiated our sweet tooth cravings and we didn’t feel guilty at all.

Verdict

I’m a fan of Casita Andina’s concept. I loved the fact the Andean culture richly inspired the place and it’s very apparent. Service is friendly and pretty good. The vibe caters to all types although I think the space can be quite tight when it gets super busy. Food showed good potential, and I am seriously happy to have tasted great fresh produce here.

Casita Andina
31 Great Windmill Street, London, W1D
Average spend pp: £40
Casita Andina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoSquare Meal

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8 Comments

  1. 8th August 2016 / 9:15 am

    This looks delicious and I love the decor! The plates are so colorful and gorgeous. There seems to be a wave of Peruvian restaurants gaining popular this year and I’m intrigued to find out more about this one based on your review, Honey! x

    • Honey de Gracia
      Author
      11th August 2016 / 12:42 am

      I actually thought of you when we ate, just because I know you like your souvenirs! x

  2. 8th August 2016 / 11:22 am

    I’d head there just for a tamale. It’s been ages since I’ve had a decent one! x

    • Honey de Gracia
      Author
      11th August 2016 / 12:42 am

      Go for it! I think they can improve it more, but that corn dumpling was decent enough! x

  3. 8th August 2016 / 2:23 pm

    I love the way you write Honey – your critiques are spot on! I really loved lunching here the week it opened, and even though I’m the biggest chocoholic too – I was seriously impressed with the mango, chia and chicha pot (so unusual!) xx

    • Honey de Gracia
      Author
      11th August 2016 / 12:41 am

      Awww thanks Ayushi! And I’m a fan of your writing, too! x That pudding was so light and refreshing!

  4. 14th August 2016 / 7:00 am

    You have literally made me the happiest girl ever!! So many ‘Peruvian’ restaurants in London are fusion and don’t offer traditional Peruvian dishes….this is the first time I’ve heard of tamales and aji de gallina on a menu! Aji de Gallina is my favourite Peruvian dish and I gorge on this for lunch and dinner every single day when I’m in Peru (lol). I’m so excited to try Casita Andina out 🙂 xx

    • Honey de Gracia
      Author
      18th August 2016 / 6:35 am

      I hope you get to enjoy it, Maggie! =) Can’t wait to read your thoughts on the aji de galina. It’s the first time I’ve tried it and I wanna try more! x