I recently decided it was high time I got my balcony garden going. After getting the majority of my new plants delivered, I paid a quick visit to the Columbia Road Flower Market in East London to pick up a few small pots and plants.
Task finished, I left Columbia Road walking along Kingsland Road towards the bus stop. Passing by the Andina restaurant, I realised that I was famished and decided to pop-in to try my luck for a late lunch spot (I’ve tried reserving for dinner numerous times but it has always been fully-booked!). Luckily for me, this awkward dining time meant that they had some free seats available by the “kitchen”, meaning that I was able to see, smell and taste my food in high definition as it were. 🙂
As it was around 3.30pm on a Sunday, we were given the brunch menu. I would say that apart from the Breakfast and Eggs sections, the rest of the menu items are made for sharing, with the recommendation being 3 dishes per person to share.
There were so many wonderful sounding dishes on offer that it was a real task to decide what to go for without ordering the entire menu. We finally made our choices with a lot of help from the waitress, before settling down to enjoy our surroundings and the cooking show.
There’s not a whole lot of seating space in the main area, but there is a lovely and spacious private room round the back which I’m guessing can be booked out for functions.
The setting is pretty compact but they managed to squeeze in a nice smoothie and coffee bar towards the end of the room.
The decorations are casual and homely and double as a sales display. They had a cookbook on sale as well as some exotic ingredients used in Peruvian recipes. It all looked rather appetising.
But back to the food. Sitting directly in front of the cooks and seeing all the amazing food get made was making us progressively hungrier and hungrier.
We didn’t have too long to wait thankfully and our first sharing plate soon arrived. Cassava chips with dip, a perfect starter.
This was very quickly followed by our 3 mains – ceviche (we of course had to go with the restaurant special), aubergine with tacu tacu and grilled octopus. I didn’t know what half of the ingredients were but they were delicious. I was especially surprised with how good the Tacu Tacu Quechua was and am now on a mission to (1) figure out what on earth tacu tacu is and (2) to try to recreate this dish.
We had purposely kept our mains portion small as we wanted to leave space for dessert, having spied a number of tempting dishes passing by us to our neighbouring diners. It was a tough choice between the chocolate brownie, sorbet and doughnuts…but the latter won out in the end.
The warm doughnuts coupled with ice-cream, topped with chocolate was really rather good after roaming the London streets on a cold afternoon.
All in all, we were extremely happy with our meal at Andina and would love to come back for dinner in the future (whenever we manage to get a reservation!). If you’re looking for some good Peruvian food, I’d definitely recommend giving Andina a go. Prices are not the cheapest, but the food really is worth it.