The welcome: service is warm and charming, though somewhat haphazard. The expertise and enthusiasm of the staff makes it easier to forgive food arriving before drinks and forgotten sauces or sides.
The room: exposed copper pipes, a long marble bar and the buzz of full capacity makes for a vibrant, stylish space. We savoured the dregs of summer sitting outside in the small but perfectly formed terrace. Somehow a rather uninspiring corner just off the Kings Road feels like an exotic piazza, thanks to muted lighting, foliage and the general buzz of bon viveur.
The food: if you've eaten at Pachamama you'll recognise the Peruvian-themed small plates concept. But Chicama comes with a twist: no meat. Instead there's seafood, fresh fish delivered daily from Cornwall and lovingly curated section of vegetable sides and small plates. If our committed carnivore of a dining companion was initially cranky about the lack of steak, he was quickly cheered by the signature Barberola cocktail (a seriously moreish, sharply sweet rhubarb spritz) and the wide selection of fish.
The cerviche is up to Pachamama's pedigree. The salmon is tender enough to really justify a cliched 'melt in the mouth', with acidity balanced by creamy coconut and sweet green mango. Our Dover Sole to share was grilled to perfection, crispy yet flaky.
When waiters recommend dishes, trust them. It's a long, unusual menu, full of surprises. Much of the delight comes in ordering beyond your comfort zone. We were sold on an avocado jalepeno sauce to drizzle over the grilled fish, then persuaded to also try the mango & ají limo -- which we now want to pour over everything evermore.
And the intriguing Tapioca Marshmallows are a revlation, with a carby comforting creaminess that's not at all cloying, and the the exact springy texture of a marshmallow. Finally the Banana & yuzu ice cream, torched meringue, coconut (another recommendation from the waiter) is like all the best bits of bannoffee and lemon meringue pie rolled into one dish.
The inevitable downside to such succulent seafood is the cost. Unless you're dining on Peru's Chicama coast, the restaurant's namesake, such fresh fish is a luxury. In landlocked London you get what you pay for and it's worth splashing out for quality seafood. But a small plate of broccoli, albeit with a divine coffee and chilli mayo, feels particularly steep at £9.
Would we go again?... It's well worth treating yourself. We've already booked for brunch (salt cod pancakes and fried fish bun sound too good to miss)
|What||Chicama London restaurant review|
|Where||Chicama, 383 King's Road, Chelsea , London , SW10 0LP | MAP|
18 Jul 16 – 31 Oct 18, 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here to book your table|