It’s been over 14 weeks since restaurants up and down the country were able to open their doors to diners. Since lockdown, the takeaway industry has been booming. With all kinds of cuisine available at the click of a button thanks to the likes of JustEat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats, takeaways have admittedly kept us going. But for me, a restaurant experience is something far different, and something I have greatly missed.
Last week, as Independence Day approached, the nation clearly had mixed feelings. Some were counting down the days until they could finally visit their favourite pub and drink their first, hand-pulled draught pint, others were a little more reluctant. The fear of COVID still fresh in their minds and not quite trusting the government’s decision to lift the restrictions.
I’ll admit that I had mixed feelings too. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the hospitality industry and I did wonder if people would be able to stick to the social distancing measures which had been put in place.
When we arrived at Peru Perdu, we went in with an open mind. For 7pm on a Saturday evening, the bar was clear and although people filled the surrounding tables it felt more like 5pm on a weekday. People seemed more aware of each other’s personal space and would often step aside to clear a path if someone wanted to walk through.
We sat in the bar area whilst we waited for our table to be ready, it was here I had my first ever post-lockdown drink (champagne, obviously) and I began to feel as though the world was becoming just a little more normal.
The reopening showcased a brand-new look by way of an interior makeover, a collaboration with Eaton House Studio featuring their world-famous pink paints. The result is a vibrant, warm and welcoming (and totally instagramable) atmosphere.
When we were taken through to the restaurant, I noticed a few COVID tweaks alongside the new interior changes. There were arrows on the floor guiding you through the restaurant and hand sanitiser stations and even a handwash basin dotted throughout. All staff were wearing face shields and they explained that all menus were contactless. This was done with a simple QR code on each place setting. All the diner has to do is take a photo of the code on their smartphone and a link will show to both the NHS track and trace app, along with the menu itself.
We began our evening with a range of cocktails, the Montezuma’s headdress was my personal favourite of the evening. Not just because of the striking blue colour, but the blend of Vita De Oro Pisco, Citrus, Orange and Blue Curacao gave this cocktail a refreshing zing, which matched the menu perfectly.
Onto the food. We started with a traditional Ceviche sampler. For those not familiar with Ceviche, Ceviche is a Latin America dish that is typically made from fresh raw dish, cured in fresh citrus juices. We opted for the Seabass, the salmon and tuna. Each dish was paired with an accompanying wine.
My personal favourite of the three was the tuna, mixed with coconut, olive oil, chilli and coriander and served with plantain crisps. The mixture of herbs and spices balanced the fish elegantly and did not overpower the tuna. The same can be said of the seabass and the salmon, however it was the tuna that really wowed me.
Alongside the Ceviche we also tried the Humita. Now this is a dish I had never tried anywhere before, and for me it was one of my favourite dishes of the evening. The Humita is made with sweetcorn, basil, massa flour and mozzarella. Now this is comfort food at its finest, and I’d be happy with just a big bowl of this and a spoon for my dinner most evenings. The sweetcorn and mozzarella paired together so perfectly to create a sweet-savoury gooey blend of flavours.
For the main event we went for the U.W.A (Uraguyan Wet Aged) steak. This came by way of the 500g ribeye topped with Chimichurri, served with thick cut chips, tomatoes and red prawns which we shared between two.
The flame grilled ribeye was cooked to absolute perfection. Each side of beef had a slightly different taste and texture. Whilst the thinner side of beef contained a little more marbling, the flavour was richer with a hint of charcoal, the other end contained less fat and had more of a meaty texture and flavour. Both sides were delicious and melted in the mouth, though personally I preferred the thinner side.
Next it was onto desserts. Whilst I was struggling not to pop the top button of my jeans (I’ve lived my lockdown life mostly in joggers and loungewear, so this was all very new to me). After hearing the list of desserts on offer we just couldn’t say no.
We opted for the baked Dulce De Leche cheesecake and the caramelised banana. It was here that our favourite desserts differed, whilst my favourite was the caramelised banana (it was the toasted coconut breadcrumbs that made this dish for me) my other half just couldn’t get enough of the meringue topped baked cheesecake.
Whilst both dishes were superb, we ended the evening on a food high, not quite believing we were out in public once again and in that moment, the world was feeling just that little bit more normal.
VIVA Verdict: For those worrying about going out into the new normal, please don’t. Although I cannot speak for every restaurant, from what I have seen and sampled from the team at Peru Perdu you will be in very good hands. The food, the drinks and the service were impeccable and overall a thoroughly enjoyable experience.