Coya: Underwhelming (March 2013)

If Peruvian food is currently one of the ‘hot things’ to be experiencing in London, then Coya seems clearly to be an example of a restaurant jumping on this (perhaps short-lived) bandwagon. In summary, I was mostly underwhelmed and would be surprised if the current fad endures. On entering, I really wasn’t sure what to make of the place, half serious restaurant with good-looking uber-trendy serving staff and half tacky tourist experience of cheesy south American music and associated décor. That said, the food was pretty good, but by no means stand-out. I can’t compare it to other Peruvian places in London (which I am yet to visit), but it certainly didn’t compare to anything I ate when last in Peru, these dishes lacking the freshness and intensity of flavour one might have hoped for even this far from Lima. As is the fashion these days, our waiter attempted to steer us towards a series of dishes for sharing, which we did for the starters but not for the mains. Of the former, which included their much-vaunted ceviche, the ox-heart skewers were a notable positive: juicy meat, piquant spices and just the right amount of chilli. We both opted for meat-based mains, my comrade choosing a steak and I the beef ribs. Both were executed competently and the sides were also tasty. In terms of the wine, I felt this was a clear let-down: very few offerings by the glass, no carafes and generally highly over-priced (£15 for a 175ml glass of Catena Chardonnay when you could buy at least one bottle for this price in the off-licence…). Our Riesling to start was far too sweet, particularly in the context of the food, although the red from Priorat with the mains was better. In conclusion, no need to go, unless just for the sake of saying you have had the experience.