While brunch may be the best meal time invention since the toastie maker, sometimes it can all get a bit samey. I love avocado as much as the next guy, but there’s only so much I can buy it smashed on a single piece of toast with a bit of salmon before becoming the most insufferable millennial in existence. So it was time to try something a bit different, like the bottomless brunch at Peruvian restaurant COYA and, boy, it was so worth the adventure.
Venue and Atmosphere
When the sun is shining as beautifully as it does in London, it might be hard to peel yourself off the grass of Regents Park and get yourself downstairs into a restaurant bar like COYA. However, they do a very good job coaxing you down. The interiors combine the older aesthetics of this part of London with a few modern flairs, from the initial bar area boating stone walls, an art deco bar and modern fixtures to create a cool place to hang out. Meanwhile, large windows let the light flood in, making a perfect gentle atmosphere for brunch time.
As we walked through the bar and into the dining room – past their open-display wine cellar, featuring dozens of bottles lining the walls – a DJ played some upbeat songs, creating a cool ambiance that flowed through the venue. Once inside, we were greeted with round tables filled with people eating brunch, with a few families here and there. The ages erred more on late-twenties up until older adult, but the atmosphere was relaxed the entire time.
Food and Drink
Having burnt myself to a crisp in the sun outside, it was time to make myself feel better by tucking into some Peruvian brunch. Before you book, let me tell you: this is a full on feast, so make sure you come hungry because you’ll want to finish everything. We added on bottomless pisco sours (£20), which were incredibly refreshing and the waiters were very aware when you were about to finish and glass, coming out with a freshly made cocktail almost immediately.
The first round of food was a pot of steamed edamame with aji Amarillo and oregano, perhaps the most moreish little snack that has ever been put in front of me. Seriously though, what is brunch without a bit of avocado? We opted to add the guacamole to the brunch for £3, with corn tortillas, and I have to insist you do too. They make the guacamole at the table and it is so incredibly fresh and delicious that, not only were we basically licking the bowl clean, we were begging the waiter to tell us the secret.
The next two plates were two chicharron, which were little boa buns filled with slow roasted pulled pork, smoked chilli and salsa criollo and quinoa salad with pomegranate. While the plates were as free-flowing as the drinks, they were small and light enough not to fill you up, and we quickly wolfed down the next three. The mixed ceviche, kingfish tiradito and seabass classico were served on a cute metallic bowl of ice, ideal for a hot summer's day and providing a mixture of tangy bursts and punchy flavours.
After a couple more dishes it was time for the most spectacular part of the brunch. For the main events, we chose two dishes from the premium side of the menu (making the brunch £46), with Arroz Nikkel – Chilean sea bass, rice, lime and chilli – and the Langostino Tigre – tiger prawn and chilli salsa.
I’ve eaten a lot of food in my life, but these rank as some of the best that’s ever graced my tongue. The prawn is the most visually interesting, with the langoustine split open and the tiger prawn bursting out, it looked as beautiful as it tasted. But while I loved that dish, the sea bass wins out in this heavyweight battle of the flavours. Every bite felt like a little bit of heaven, with us both restraining ourselves from devouring it so we could savour every mouthful. I finally understood the happiness dogs feel when they go for walks. If you are ever in Mayfair – no, if you’re ever in London – seek this dish out. You won’t regret it.
We finished the brunch feast with a selection of light desserts, including a chocolate brownie, chichi morada with cherry and shortbread and a coconut & passion fruit Bavarois – rich, sweet and the perfect way to end a perfect meal.
Just go for brunch at COYA. If you can, and you should try, you have to go. Every dish was pretty much flawless, and with so much coming out even the fussiest of eaters will eat enough that they’ll have to be rolled out of the restaurant. But those main courses were as beautiful as they were fundamentally delicious, and if you won’t go for your taste buds, go for your Instagram.