Over the long Bank Holiday, after spending all of Saturday at The Fable with Izy, my friend Jon and I met for a fantastic Peruvian lunch at Andina which has been on my 'list' since it opened (lots of raw fish for me, I adore ceviche, and lots of meat for him!) before heading up to the rooftop terrace at The Boundary for a pitcher of Mai Tai's (it is amazing up there, I felt like I was back in Los Angeles, how had I not been there before?), then onto Beagle to sit out in the sunshine for more cocktails, then onto Dishoom for dinner. The whole weekend was my celebration for finishing university, and I ate entirely too much and put away way too many pineapple and rum based cocktails in the sunshine. While I did not take many photos as I just wanted to relax, I was sure to document lunch as it was pretty amazing; Andina is somewhere in East London you must visit!
Because the sun was shining and I was celebrating after all, I was really in the mood for something tropical, bit being in a Peruvian joint and being a fan of Pisco, I wanted that too. My solution came in the form of the Pisco Punch, a fantastic mix of fresh pineapple, pineapple syrup, lime, grape pisco and grapefruit bitters.
Andina is for small plates, which are meant for sharing, but as we both have quite different tastes when it comes to regional cuisine we ordered our own, but tried bits of each others. One of my dishes from the 'classic' section of the menu was this incredible Chicken and Avocado Causa. The cold potato at the bottom was flavoured with lime and coriander, and while it sounds really weird it was lovely, and provided an amazing base for the smashed avocado on top (I just wish that there had been more of it, but I like too much avocado on everything!) and the amazing chicken and red onion creamy mix. The whole dish was bright, fresh, and surprising and I could have eaten much more of it. I'm rather happy I did not have to share!
Obviously I had to have a dish of ceviche, and after so much deliberation, choosing, changing my mind and choosing again I just decided it would be best to go for the house ceviche: sea bass (my favourite), goldenberry, avocado and sweet potato. It was also topped off with crunchy corn pieces, and was mouthwateringly delicious, and not spicy like the similar ceviche I'd had on the Friday at Streets of Spain. It was simply fantastic, but I did have two gripes with it. The goldenberry was delicious and unusual, but it was only one berry cut in half. I can let that slide as I don't know much about them, or how much they cost, but there were also only two very tiny cubes of avocado, which came across as a little stingy to me. However, I would still really recommend it.
I was simply blown away by my third menu choice, the Beef Fillet Steak Skewers, marinated in pisco. The meat was oh so juicy, delicious and tender, and to my delight (I usually like my steaks so rare in the middle they are practically still mooing) very pink in the middle of the pieces. I had no problem polishing this off, and out of anything I think it is the dish I'd be really sure to order again. The marination in pisco made me curious, because I've been thinking about leaving my steaks in a bit of booze for a while; there is a Nigella Lawson recipe for steaks marinated in vodka I have been pondering, and I want to try even more now.
Jon had the lamb and chicken skewers, and while I did not try the lamb not being a fan, I was informed that it was comparable to how good my steak was. The chicken on the other hand I did try, and I can confirm the amazingness of. Sweet, juicy and tender it was still a little pink in the middle. We overcook our chicken in the West for fear of salmonella, but I'm too scared to try cooking it a little pink myself at home, so when I see it on the menu of a reputable restaurant I'm always game to try it, and I always fall in love with the dish.
I think our grand finale was the best part of the meal. We went for the sharing platter of Picarones; pumpkin doughnuts served with sides of chocolate fudge, vanilla bean ice cream and purple maize syrup, which was rather unusual, but sweet, very more-ish and surprisingly fruity. For dipping I actually preferred it to the chocolate. The doughnuts themselves where the lightest, softest and non-greasy doughnuts I think I've ever had. They were simply a marvel, and they are the one thing I urge you to try at Andina, whatever else you try on the menu. Seriously, I could wax lyrical about these for pages if I was not worried I would bore you all silly!
If you want to try Peruvian food or you're a big fan of it already, Andina is somewhere great and really casual to go. My first Peruvian experience was at Lima, which I can really recommend (I don't think that I'm ever going to shut up about their scallops), but with its Michelin star it is quite pricy. Andina is actually the East London outpost from the Ceviche team, and I still really want to eat there!
Going to boarding school when we did not get Bank Holidays off, they were not really a thing for me, and in the countryside I still don't really observe them and carry on as usual, and while I don't have a regular 9-5 job, lots of my friends do and I'm starting to really come to appreciate the three or four day weekends when I can catch up with everyone, eat amazing food when people are not tired for work or rushed in a lunch hour, and just sit in the sunshine.