Updated: Sep 29, 2019
I cannot stress enough how much I enjoy plantain. It literally gives me so much joy - I will take it any form. I say this to say, that any restaurant that serves plantain, deserves a visit from me. FACT.
A friend of mine introduced me to this restaurant in early 2018 and I was impressed with the food. So much so, that when she suggested going back for our 2019 catch-up, I swiftly agreed.
The restaurant has two branches - we visited the one in Islington. It is very easy to get to - it's a short walk from both the closest train station and tube station.
Upon my arrival, I was greeted by the main waiter, a warm and friendly man who I recognised from our previous visit. He sat me down in one of the best seating areas of the restaurant and quickly placed these golden nuggets of heaven on the table. These nuggets are called 'Canchitas'. They are salted, toasted kernels of maize (the type of maize used is called 'maiz chulpe' ) that resemble huge corn nuts. They seem to be bottomless - when they had all been eaten, the empty container was replaced with another healthy batch of Canchitas.
To start, I had the 'Pulpo al Olivo' - a dish that consisted of grilled octopus with olive cream and potatoes. The octopus was very well cooked - not tough at all as I have found squid from some places - which has a similar texture and taste to octopus - to be in the past. It was simply flavoured. The potatoes were soft all around and inside too. It was a hefty portion! I liked the olive cream - I didn't taste much olive but it was tasty.
The wait time between the starter and the main dish was short. No more than around 15-20 minutes.
The main waiter was gracious enough to honour my substitution requests with no hesitation. I ordered the 'Picante Chalaco' - a creamy seafood stew with plantain (las maduritos) and fried cassava (yuquitas fritas) instead of rice and their salsa criolla. I completely forgot to ask that the plantains were cooked 'sin miel' (without honey) but actually, when I tasted them, I realised that I should have trusted the chef. They were deliciously soft but still firm, sweet but not overpoweringly so, and perfectly browned. They were a great accompaniment to the savoury seafood stew that was filled with big mussels, prawns, calamari and baby octopus. Seafood can be soooo hit or miss. For me, anyway. You may not know how off the mark the seafood was until the next day - your stomach will tell you. You'll be pleased to know that this dish was a true hit. None of the seafood was tough - none of it was overcooked or undercooked. The fried cassava was also good - crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Good substitution. Again - the portion was generous and by the penultimate bite, dessert was a dissolved wish.
It is worth mentioning that the two of us used a Groupon voucher to purchase this meal, and the meal also included a (large) glass of wine. We paid under £40 altogether (that includes service charge) and left happy, satiated and satisfied. The meals were worth every penny.
I would recommend this restaurant for dates, friendly catch-ups and to those who want some exposure to some authentic Peruvian food and culture. It is clean and the staff are very accommodating. I cannot wait to return! Maybe next time I will try the ceviche. Am I that brave? Find out in 2020.
Find out more about Tierra Peru here: https://www.tierraperu.co.uk