Casita Andina

One of my favourite cuisines to eat out is probably superfood-packed Peruvian. After all, Peru is the homeland of quinoa; need I say more? I’d been meaning to go to Casita Andina for some time now and seized at the chance to choose this place to catch-up with my friend who was about to go travelling to South America. Casita Andina is a “picanteria”, a typically a cosy family-run restaurant in the homes of Andinas, which translates as a woman or dish from the Andes. I hope this doesn’t reflect the interchangeability of the two terms: female and food…I doubt it, as the food is inspired by its founder, Martin Morales’, grandmother.

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The whole restaurant has an unfailingly cosy and family vibe. Inside, it’s all fitted out to look like a traditional house from the area, complete with textiles made using ancient Andean weaving techniques and works by Peruvian artists on the walls. The staff are also helpful and happily explained to us what exactly pisco, tiger’s milk and queso were.

The menu has many me-dishes, both from the hot kitchen and the ceviche/raw bar. I’d expected this as Casita Andina is from the pioneer that launched Ceviche in 2012 and Andina – my other favourites, both in design and food. The vegetarian options were expansive:

  • Avocado fritters: Avocado, panca chilli, salt (£3.50);
  • Cauliflower: Panca chilli-marinated cauliflower, sweet potato, broad bean, onions and tomatoes (£6.50);
  • San Blas Salad (vgf): Seasonal leaves, beetroot, heritage tomatoes, green peas, goldenberry (£4);
  • Watermelon & quinoa salad: Chilli-pressed watermelon, lemon-almond vinaigrette, black quinoa, queso fresco (£5);
  • Causa Andina: Violet potato, asparagus, sweet potato, lime dressing (£6.50); and
  • Tomato ceviche (vgf) Chilli-infused heritage tomatoes, cucumber tiger’s milk, pickled red onions, cancha-olive dust (£8).

Not only were all these dishes vegetarian, but they were also gluten-free. Too much choice. After much deliberation, I went for the Watermelon and the Cauliflower dishes. The watermelon was refreshingly summery, and paired with the black quinoa, it was given a crunchy bite. Come next summer, it’s certainly a combination I’ll be recreating in the kitchen.

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Watermelon and Quinoa Salad

Although I was excited about the cauliflower, for me it was a touch too spicy. Given the tapas style arrival of the dishes, I’d already devoured my salad dish but the heat of this dish would have paired well with a cooling ceviche. Nevertheless, the food does taste as though it’s been cooked with love and given its family ethos, it reminded me of meals that my mother often puts too much chilli!

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Cauliflower

Casita Andina brings character to Soho. It’s warming food for the soul and in sharing ethos, it feels cosy. Head here for a dinner with family, friends or date night.

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Casita Andina, 31 Great Windmillk Street, Soho, London, W1D 7LP

Website: http://www.andinalondon.com/

Rating: ****

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