Chotto Matte – London W1D
November 7, 2013 § Leave a comment
A Peruvian / Japanese mega-restaurant – which I seriously enjoyed.
I was thrilled to be invited to the pre-pre-opening of Chotto Matte – an evening of cocktails and canapés. Often these evenings are hit and miss, sometimes amounting to a bit of a waste of time, but they are always worth a shot. Walking into what was literally a building site (I was asked to wear a yellow jacket and hard-hat to enter the premises and ascend the stairs to the more-complete-but-not-quite-there-yet second floor dining room), I had my doubts about this one.
It was at this point that the endlessly charming Kurt Zdesar, the brains behind this new venture, announced dinner. The eight course dinner.
Settling down at one of the few tables currently set up, we proceeded to enjoy an onslaught of weird and wonderful, beautiful and bizarre dishes. Most hit the spot immediately, whilst others we constructively critiqued. Here is a mere sample of the array I had the pleasure of trying.
A picture-perfect dish of ‘Seafood ceviche: Prawn, scallop, sea bass, sweet potato, peruvian corn, coriander, chive oil, citrus sauce’ (£7.5) was delicate and graceful with an underlying sourness, characteristic of classic ceviche.
The disc of ‘Tostaditas: Tuna sashimi, corn crisp, jalapeño, coriander, wasabi’ (£6.5) was quartered to allow for sharing – however the toasted tortilla failed the test and crumbled into spiky fragments – a tasty combination but accordingly the dish was being re-thought. A plate of ‘Robata chicken den miso: Chicken miso, carrot, courgette, yellow chilli raita’ (£5.5) arrived to the delight of all; the succulent chunks of chicken, with perfectly crisped skin were fantastic – the robata grill adding depth and flavour.
A beautifully presented dish of ‘Scallop tiradito: Scallop sashimi, coriander, jalapeño, black salt, lemon and lime juice’ (£7.95) was really rather good, lasting all of 2 minutes, whilst the ‘Corbina shiso salsa: Sea bass, shiso, chilli, onion, ponzu’ (£13.25) was a stunning dish, although admittedly in need of tweaking. The Sea bass was incredible, the shiso salsa was packed with intense flavour, yet they existed on the plate in complete isolation from one another: the chunky sauce refused to cling to fillets of fish and so was left almost in its entirety on the plate. (#FirstWorldProblems)
The ‘Soft shell crab, cucumber, egg sauce‘ (£10.25) is like any you might get at a decent sushi bar and that’s no criticism, however the ‘Seabass Nigiri’ (two pieces, £4.3) was rather unique. Squares of transparent jelly lay across each Nigiri piece: the texture was as striking as the flavour, adding a uniquely inventive element to this otherwise traditional dish.
A bowl of off-puttingly purple ‘Smoked purple potato puree‘ (£4.5) arrived. I cautiously dipped the tip of my spoon into the thick gloop – this was comfort food like no other. The familiar characteristics of mashed potato were overridden by the flavour of sweet-potato and the texture of, well I’m not quite sure…. It was one of those dishes that I’m not sure why I liked, but I couldn’t help but go back for more. And I think I would have it again. The oversized ‘Peruvian corn, chilli, butter, coriander’ (£3.5) made for messy eating, and was so worth it.
‘Casava wedges‘ (£3.25) were as addictive as all good chips tend to be but it was the succulent ‘Lamb chops, quinoa, coriander, Peruvian chilli miso‘ (£7.25 per piece) that really stole the show. They were delicious – marinaded til tender, grilled til crisped and served with a miso topping that added a hint of chilli kick. If there is one dish you have got to try, this is it.
An array of beautiful desserts brought the evening to a close: the ‘Brulee de la pasion‘ (£7.5) and ‘Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondant‘ (£7.5) were standout – the latter, with its perfectly gooey centre, was superb.
I think it goes without saying that I was spoilt rotten on my visit to Chotto Matte and accordingly thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was sad to see a string of less then complimentary reviews of the restaurant of late, which I think is still finding its feet. That said, the most recent reviews have been better. To me the graffiti style decor alludes to a down-market, funky restaurant serving Japanese street food, whilst the menu in fact offers, some quite stunning, upmarket Peruvian cuisine; an interesting combination that works.
I would certainly recommend giving Chotto Matte a chance, as some of the dishes I tried were positively outstanding. But if in doubt, perhaps let the dust settle on this Soho newbie for a little while. And when you do go, order the lamb chops.