Latin Food Tangos Across London

Ceviche Soho

As you may have noticed, there are lots of new burrito places around town, along with a few other places serving South American specialties. They are good, fast, cheap, filling and delicious, and only one will kick you out after spending lots of money on dinner.

Brazilian rodizio (where the servers bring as much meat as you can eat to your table) is also making more headway into London. The newest rodizio in town is Cabana, which claims itself "Brazilian barbecue at its best." The meat is accompanied by street food (basically side dishes which include rice and cheese balls). However, having been there, it actually is not the best. The menu is confusing, the meat, once it was finally delivered to our table after 20 minutes of begging, was very hard to chew, so most of it was left on my plate. I would not go back.

The newest, hottest, most-hyped Mexican restaurant to open is La Bodega Negra in Soho. This place is so hot and trendy it doesn't even have a name on its front door. The front door is the facade of a sex shop, with flashing neon lights displaying the words 'Peep Show', 'Adult Video' and 'Live Girls,' and a neon light of a pole dancer. Once you walk into the place and are led downstairs, you are taken in to a cozy and barely lit underground restaurant reminiscent of a cave. The decor is very nice, with a Mexican theme, and one of the rooms is devoted to the dead, with Christmas lights around the walls made of cardboard. There is a sideways piano in another room, and the bar is in the middle of it all.

What about the food? Well, the menu is sparse, with 18 starters and nine main courses to chose from (plus two ceviches and three salads). The tortilla soup was about the size of a large ashtray, but for £5.50 you would expect a proper bowl. The starter tacos were about the same size as the palm of a hand, again, not very big, two bites and done. Many of the other items on the menu did not seem too desirable, but we ordered the slow roasted lamb (a meal for two people) as a main course. It was succulent, delicious, tender and cooked in the most amazing sauces. The drinks, unfortunately, are very small. I had two margaritas that were served in small glasses, and they didn't quench my margarita thirst, and for £9 each, they were not cheap. When it came time for dessert, our waitress informed us that our time was up, we were not allowed to order dessert, and that she needed our table for the next reservation (the place wasn't even full when we left). Would I go back to La Bodega Negra? Definitely not. There is nothing else on the menu that I fancied, and any restaurant that pushes me out the door after having spent £92 on dinner does not deserve my custom. So don't believe the hype.

Another new Latin American restaurant, also in Soho, is Ceviche. A Peruvian restaurant, the food is not very close to its Mexican neighbour to the north and its Brazilian neighbour to its east. Their specialty is Ceviche, which is fish with some chilli and other ingredients added. Of course, there are different variations of this. Ceviche not only serves seafood, but also beef, duck and chicken. Upon entering the restaurant, which is not gimmicky and actually looks like a restaurant, you are treated to the most amazing smells. Walking past the bar, you enter into a room that is dark but not too dark, the lighting very subdued and romantic, and the walls decorated in Peruvian poster style. And the food is succulent and amazing.

The Cancha, crunchy Peruvian corn that's a cross between peanuts and popcorn, is a must. I have never tasted anything like it before. The various cold salads are also delicious, some with seafood, some with rice, some with avocado. As for the main courses, the duck with rice was very good. The rump steak marinated with chilli anticucho sauce (a Peruvian sauce) was succulent and melted on my tongue. Yuca as a side dish was also very good. My taste buds hadn't tasted anything so amazing in a long time. Ceviche is highly recommended, but book now for a table as I hear the waiting list is getting longer by the day. Ceviche is a not a facade. They are the real thing, and they won't throw you out after your main course!