I talk a pretty big brunch game and on a snowing St Paddy’s – after 10 too many G&Ts and some questionable life chats with colleagues the night before – I am at my brunching prime. By this I mean, I am in optimum consuming state, ready to shovel great spades of comfort food into my mouth. While many London brunches pour out the bubbles, Senor Ceviche on Charlotte Street is also going bottomless with their Peruvian dishes - could it be the game changer brunches have been lacking this whole time?
Venue and Atmosphere
I’m a sucker for moaning about the weather; mild wind messing up my hair? Bloody gale force winds out there. So snow in mid-March while I’m shuffling along Oxford Street could provide conversation fodder for the next two hours. Stepping into Senor Ceviche, however, immediately pushes all ‘might die from hypothermia’ chat out of my head. Split into three levels, the Peruvian restaurant iemulates the hazy cool capital Lima. Clashing light and dark; downstairs, walls are painted navy blue and lined with mahogany booths while up a winding staircase, a bright white mezzanine level bursts with hanging plants.
The place is pretty rammed by the time I arrive at 12pm, and it quickly becomes pretty hard to hear my date’s interesting notes on the amount of snow in North London, as we’re placed next to a group of 15. Not such a secret after all, the rest of the floors quickly fill up with punters as charming staff rush around serving an inordinate amount of plates and glasses.
Food and Drink
Senor Ceviche’s brunch menu has three main components; Para Picar, Ceviche and Peruvian BBQ, with the first two being bottomless. ‘Senor recommends two/three plates each’ is quickly disregarded as our waiter informs us he will be bringing us every single one of the Para Picar and Ceviche dishes - a grand total of eight starters. Not that that elicits a lick of complaint from me - this is someone who cried so much at the nutritionist’s suggestion to cut back, my mum let me keep both my breakfasts.
Pretty quickly our table fills up with little plates of meat, raw seafood and fermented veg. Chifa Chicharrones are four bites of pork belly, glazed in a fruity BBQ sauce and made sweeter by the gooey dollop of sweet potato. The eponymous ceviche is also bitesize, with a little bowl of citrus-y liquid and chunks of raw sea bass and octopus, with a crunchy texture added from the crispy baby squid and red onion.
As charming as they are, the waiters make clear we have a time limit, pointedly looking at watches every time they pass. In some sort of food-eating-challenge style, we gobble up the eight plates, before another carousel of food arrives, this time in the form of whacking BBQ dishes. I go for Seco de Cordero, a slow cooked dish of lamb shoulder. It’s comforting and heavy, the sort of thing you might cook to seem more interesting on a Sunday, as chunks of lamb are baked into a thick stew of black beans, bacon, and rice. Was I full? Yes, I was belly-achingly stuffed, did that stop me sloshing down bottomless red wine and bellinis - did it hell.
Usually bottomless brunch involves me, eggs benny, a load of prosecco and lots of tears. Senor Ceviche has made the occasion an all together more sophisticated affair, though with 10 dishes and just under two hours, the whole thing does feel a bit rushed. Think more smart birthday party than intimate brunch date, at this cool and stylish central London joint.