London Restaurant Review
There is no doubt that the craze for trendy fusion dining has made its mark on the gastronomic landscape in London, with the likes of Nobu and Hakkasan establishing themselves as popular and fashionable establishments. Coya, located on Piccadilly fits the trend (and, incidentally, is owned by the same group that owns Zuma, La Petite Maison and Il Baretto). This restaurant brings Londoners a taste of modern Peruvian cuisine set in an upmarket environment.
As you descend a flight of stairs to enter Coya, you initially meet a long bar which boasts a tequila list that would make your eyes water. A number of small, low tables coupled with dim lighting make up the Pisco Bar.
After being seated at our table in the restaurant, a waiter with a handlebar moustache immediately appeared to offer menus (I was tempted to ask if the moustache was part of the uniform, but I refrained). He subsequently explained the elements of Peruvian cuisine: ceviche, tiraditos, anticuchos. The former two are typically composed of raw fish, and he recommended a combination of tuna, salmon and scallop. Anticuchos is a slightly more down-to-earth dish: a grilled skewer of meat marinated with spices. The most indulgent dish we ordered was the patatas bravas: fried cubes of potato served with a spicy tomato-based sauce. The dessert was a delightfully rich chocolate fondant with roasted white chocolate ice cream – an interesting combination boasting almond flavours.
In general, I enjoyed my experience at Coya. The externals ticked the boxes of a high-end dining experience: interesting décor, dim lighting, authentic music. I found the food to be interesting, however the ceviches and tiraditos were distinctly underwhelming. No doubt the fish was fresh, but for a restaurant that aims to emulate Peruvian cuisine I felt the dishes should have had more flavour. The anticuchos, rack of lamb and patatas bravas were all good dishes and faultlessly prepared but again, nothing to write home about. The chocolate fondant was delicious – perhaps the most memorable part of the meal. It would be an understatement to remark that the dessert was devoured within minutes.
London restaurant review: Summary
In a nutshell: I enjoyed the experience but would not rush back to Coya. Perhaps my expectations are too high. At a price of £70+ per head for dinner and drinks, the food did not ‘wow’ me. The service was initially excellent with the waiter taking great care to explain the menu; but as the restaurant became extremely busy at 10pm the service levels dropped significantly. The waiter also forgot to charge us for the bottle of champagne that we had ordered at the Pisco Bar; when I prompted him he duly apologised and informed us that it was complimentary. That was a nice touch.