A Peruvian Stopover
Fresh ceviche and a knockout, homemade sauce, provide a tasty introduction to the new Peruvian eatery to appear on the ever-expanding Soho food scene
Review by Izzy Ashton
The façade of Butifarra is impossible to miss as you make your way through bustling Soho and along Rupert Street. Bright red and with an elaborate, traditionally colourful painting on the inside wall, this is an eatery that has chosen to stand out against the backdrop of many a drab exterior.
And it doesn’t stop with the façade. The walls inside are painted in a screaming canary yellow, whilst rainbow-patterned Peruvian fabric covers every bench cushion. There is a mini cactus on every table and Day of the Dead-esq skulls adorning the shelves. Butifarra, it appears, is bringing a little taste of Peru to central London.
More of a casual eatery than a fully-fledged restaurant, Butifarra’s main kitchen lies in the depths of the site, although the final preparation area is on the shop floor. A wide array of strange looking ingredients lie along the counter-top, allowing you to watch as the chefs prepare your chosen food.
We settled ourselves onto a bench near the back, although the space is small enough that we could still see the chef at work. Opting for a fresh red juice (watermelon, strawberry and noni powder) and some sea bream ceviche to start, we kicked back to the eclectic sounds of Madonna, Take That and a little hint of Justin Beiber thrown in for good measure.
The ceviche arrived promptly and proceeded to be one of the best I’ve tasted. Fresh and spicy with a deliciously sour undertone, this was a ceviche to write home about. The sea bream nestled in amongst raw red onions, soft sweet potato and crunchy corn kernels, providing a mouthful of differing textures and flavours. The sweetness of the fish cut through the refreshingly ‘zingy’ sauce, complimented perfectly by the saltiness of the corn kernels.
To follow came Butifarra’s classic Peruvian bread rolls, served with a choice of meat, vegetables and Buttifarra’s incomparable pachamanca sauce. This sauce combines panca with amarillo and a mix of andean herbs to create a flavour that is both creamy and tangy at the same time, whilst perfectly complimenting the meat its combined with. In our case this was pork and then a combination of chicken and chorizo, both of which were significantly improved by the crispy lettuce, salsa criolla and sauce that they were served with.
Full but with just a little bit of space for a sweet ending, we chose to indulge in the alfajores, a layer of dulce de leche sandwiched between two thin, buttery shortbread biscuits. Delicate, melt-in-the-mouth, bite-sized delights – I could have eaten at least ten. But then I remembered my cancelled gym membership, and general impending Christmas celebrations, and so limited myself to just the one.
While Butifarra doesn’t really feel like a mid-week dinner spot, the flavours of the food are Peruvian to their core, and all the more delicious for it. With Soho slowly starting to be overtaken by restaurant after café after restaurant, the food scene is in danger of becoming rather over saturated. So, whether you order in or make a little detour to pick up in store, make this your next lunchtime option. It’ll make a change from that old Pret sandwich that’s for sure.
Enquiries: Butifarra / 24 Rupert Street, London W1D 6DQ / 020 7287 8855 / http://thebutifarra.com/