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Peruvian restaurant Butifarra
Peruvian restaurant Butifarra
Fri, 09/09/2016 - 14:46
Published:08 September, 2016
by TOM MOGGACH
ACCORDING to the chef at Butifarra, the Amazonian jungle is the final frontier for exotic ingredients.
He’s the expert. Raphael is Peruvian and runs his own import business supplying other chefs in the capital with products from his homeland.
Purple sweetcorn, amarillo chillies, red quinoa, chia seeds and the dried powder of the lucuma fruit are easy to get.
Far harder is “Paiche”, a freshwater fish. He shows me a picture of the beast on his mobile phone: a specimen so large that three men struggle to heft it.
The unique, diverse cuisine of Peru is on trend nowadays, led by the popularity of the raw fish dish called “ceviche”.
But – until now – nearly all Peruvian restaurants in London have been fancy and upmarket, a gap which Butifarra is striving to fill.
The location in Rupert Street in Soho is cunningly chosen. This stretch near Leicester Square is fast becoming a hot spot for interesting places to eat out.
First was Palomar – the restaurant from Jerusalem whose second branch opened recently in Neal’s Yard.
Next up was Morada, a swish new flagship from Spanish importers Brindisa.
Butifarra is a far cheaper, everyday option. Most trade is take-away, with a handful of tables if you want to sit down.
Their speciality is “butifarra”, a Peruvian street food. More on that later.
Other dishes include ceviche and a highly original breakfast menu starring Andean granola, almond milk porridge, and a twist on a bacon sandwich: lightly fried cheesy bread piled with smoked bacon and salsa.
Butifarra emits a fun, upbeat atmosphere: bright walls in red, green and yellow; Peruvian music and fabrics; tribal graffiti on the walls from artist Luc Waring.
I came for lunch and nabbed a table. The brief menu is studded with unfamiliar and intriguing ingredients, helpfully explained in a glossary on the back.
The ceviche here is spot-on: chunks of sparkling fresh fish in “tiger’s milk” – the refreshing, addictive liquor made with plenty of lime juice, white onion, celery, garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander.
Contrasting texture is key to this dish, with the soft fish balanced by slivers of onion and large kernels of crunchy corn.
The butifarras are deeply satisfying: a crisp roll stuffed with slow-cooked meats such as beef short rib, pork or chicken and chorizo and finished with their special salsa. Try yours with the homemade ketchup spiked with yellow Peruvian chilli.
Butifarra also serves healthy lunch boxes, such a quinoa salad with smoked duck, and a couple of vegetarian options.
The cold pressed juices, too, are unlike anything you’ll find on the high street.
The yellow juice, for example, blends pineapple with a subtle hint of turmeric, plantain and lucuma fruit.
Peruvian food is not a fad. This cuisine is genuinely exciting.
If you’re keen to explore, Butifarra is currently the best place to start – you can eat well for around £10.
24 Rupert Street, W1D
Open daily from 11am-9pm