OK, I promise that’s all my puns done in the sub-headline. I’ll stop the pun fun and move on to the delicious Peruvian pop-up that’s arrived in the city – at Sandinista to be exact .
That little spot off St Ann’s Square that may be more familiar as a late night bartender haunt or a late night food haunt – it’s perfect for tapas with friends after a gig or event – is now hosting pop-up kitchen Mama Pacha and their Peruvian delights.
The tapas-style menu remains, but rather than risotto and jalapeno poppers, there are now dishes including ceviche, croquetas with chicken, Parmesan & amarillo chilli, and pan fried panka chili marinated chicken skewer served with a huancaina (a creamy cheesy) sauce.
I headed over to sample some of the dishes. Let’s begin at the beginning.
Alongside plantain chips and salsa and deep fried giant corn are nachos, that bar and restaurant classic. The nachos con queso comes piled high and topped with queso (Amarillo chilli and cheese sauce), mango and roquito pepper salsa, and guacamole. Crunchy, fresh, lightly spicy and definitely cheesy, it’s one I’d recommend for sharing because it’s incredibly moreish and you’ll have no room for anything else. Learn from my mistakes.
Aiming for something lighter with my second dish, I opted for another Peruvian speciality, ceviche. Ceviche is a method of cooking that uses acid rather than heat – in most cases, citric acid from lemons or limes. This means that the scallops in the ceviche of scallop keep their sweetness and soft texture, proving a great contrast to the Peruvian zarandaja beans, salty savoury squid ink and crunchy samphire.
If that seafood is a little exotic for you, try the jalea mixta – deep fried squid, prawns and seabass, served with a fresh salsa which is also really rather good.
And if tentacles aren’t your thing, there’s also the patatas bravas criollas (yes the patatas bravas are still on the menu) or the albondigas verdes – slow cooked beef meatballs in a coriander and lager sauce with fried yucca.
For me, the stand out dish of my evening visit was the chincharron de cerdo, a slow roasted pork belly that managed that balance between sweet sticky pork and crispy, crunchy crackling, served with a sweet potato puree and chili and onion escabeche. That’s one dish I wouldn’t share – not even with my husband (sorry love, get one of your own).
To go alongside the pop-up food menu is a cocktail menu to match featuring pisco, the Peruvian drink of choice. Made using wine it, has a distinctive mouthfeel and a light fresh flavour that makes it perfect for cocktails.
Along with citrussy pisco sours, Sandinista have created a range of cocktails that will have you hitting the bar for more, including the chilcano with pisco, ginger and orange shrub, mango soda and mint, and the Little Mix Up with gin, lulo and ginger cordial and watermelon and cucumber soda.
Whether you’re a Sandinista regular or newcomer, this pop-up kitchen is offering the bright fresh flavours of South America just as we edge into the grey, damp days of autumn. And not a guinea-pig in sight.
A little bit of sunshine on a rainy day.