Restaurant Review: COYA Mayfair

3rd January 2017

With one of the most exclusive postcodes in London, COYA Mayfair has been welcoming the rich and famous for a number of years now to savour their well-constructed menu using exotic ingredients from Peru. They have an exclusive membership scheme that includes access to a separate ground floor member's bar and an outdoor Incan terrace. Members are also invited along to special collective events, which includes live bands and DJ nights playing the best of Latin sounds crossed with British influences.

They are also making an attempt to offer COYA Mayfair to a new audience by introducing a very accessibly-priced express lunch menu, which contains a significant selection from their à la carte menu at £26 for three courses. They also have an option that includes wine pairing for £38 per person and this menu includes coffee or tea.

Apart from the price, the other impressive thing to note from their menu is the level of detail in their allergen glossary. The attention to the finest details is to be respected: with fish, molluscs and shellfish separated to three different sections. This was ideal given I had invited along a guest who is both vegetarian and has a nut-allergy.

Ceviches are must-order dishes at COYA Mayfair as the authenticity of these excellent fish dishes rival the very best from Peru. A Lubina Clásico contained perfectly chilled sea bass, red onions, sweet potato and white corn. The ‘tiger's milk' that marinated the dish had the right amount of citrus notes that made the dish refreshing without being too sour, whilst Atún Chifa, had the ideal mix of Peruvian and Chinese styles with yellowfin tuna flavoured with a gentle soy dip accented with sesame seeds and shrimp cracker.

For the main, it was a classy Chilean sea bass, rice, lime and chilli that had beautiful citrusy notes – cooked in their special robata grill. They actually have three open kitchen areas with a bespoke josper grill and a ceviche bar.

Vegetarians are well catered for at COYA Mayfair. My guest tried sumptuous tasting pumpkin and soft cheese tacos flavoured with the ubiquitous aji amarillo, which is a Peruvian chilli paste. A vegetarian maki roll had a great ratio of farm fresh vegetables compared to rice; with the flavours of the asparagus and red peppers coming through strongly. In fact, we enjoyed the asparagus so much, we were compelled to order a separate dish of Peruvian asparagus with tomato dressing.

A vegetarian main course of pumpkin rice, caramelised pumpkin, aji panca and sage was a dreamy delight. The fruit was caramelised to a melt-in-your-mouth level of perfection with the aji panca, which is a Peruvian pepper added further flavours to the dish.

Whilst desserts are not included in their express lunch menu, I would strongly recommend trying their eclectic offerings. Chicha Morada is more like a palate-cleanser rather than a dessert. The textures of Peruvian purple corn granita, ice-cream and jelly was particularly refreshing and came accompanied by cherry and shortbread. Whilst the Peruvian milk jam, mango, vanilla cream had a slick, velvety texture that you know only comes out of a well-drilled dessert kitchen team.
With their great value express lunch menu, this London Peruvian institution will be even more accessible to the general public.

Words by Baldwin Ho

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