Chotto Mate: Classy – but, wait a minute, check the prices (October 2016)

Chotto Mate ticks many boxes – it is cool, serves excellent food and wines and has enthusiastic and engaging staff. The catch, however, is the cost. The menu is somewhat bewildering in its complexity, the dishes are small and the bill can therefore rack up quickly. Even if you opt for one of the sharing menus – and at least have the dilemma of knowing what to choose taken away – this hardly comes cheap, at a minimum of £50 a head. On a Wednesday night when a group of five of us dined there recently, the place was certainly buzzing, suggesting good things, but also many deep pockets. Chotto Mate (which means ‘wait a minute’ in Japanese) is spread over two floors and is certainly not the place to go for an intimate meal; rather, expect a hip set of tunes, graffiti murals on the wall and a lot of people and dishes constantly on the move. The inspiration for the food – in that very on-trend sort of way – is a cross between Japanese and Peruvian. It’s been done many times before, most famously at Nobu, but it does continue to work, and the two cuisines are natural bedfellows in many ways. There is no shortage of options from which to choose and we also noted that the restaurant was very accommodating for one member of our group, who had gluten-free requirements. Between us we sampled some 20 dishes, a range of cold and hot options. All credit to the restaurant that I do not recall one failure among the selection. Chotto excelled in both the quite simple (such as Padrón peppers) as well as the notably more complex. In particular, we rated the dishes from the Anticuchería barbecue, namely meat/fish chargrilled over hot coals with a marinade of Peruvian spices. Stand-out were the pork belly, beef heart skewers and octopus, all full of flavour and cooked pitch-perfect. The wine list was also intelligently compiled and we especially rated a fine New Zealand Pinot Noir (Huia), which paired well with the food. My advice – go, but get someone else to pay if you can.