Writer Amanda David visits Pachamama East for a very different take on a Sunday roast.
Pachamama is the Andean goddess of fertility and harvest, the Mother Earth of the Incas, and thus a wholly suitable inspiration for the original restaurant in Marylebone which serves Peruvian small plates designed for relaxed, bountiful dining.
My visit was to sister restaurant Pachamama East, whose name not only references the Shoreditch postcode but also its slightly different menu. The focus here is Executive Chef John Javier’s take on Chifa, the Chinese-influenced Peruvian cuisine blending primarily Cantonese flavours with traditional Peruvian cooking methods, a result of Chinese immigration into Peru from the early 1900s.
Pachamama East is a lovely, relaxed dining space: exposed brickwork, open kitchen, natural wood storage haphazardly crammed with books, cascading plants, covetable pottery and strings of lights criss-crossing the room like bunting. A mellow soundtrack of eighties classics and current hits was perfect for our Sunday lunchtime visit but we heard good things from fellow diners about the DJ sets.
Normally I would have been all over the starters (Lamb anticuchos! Sichuan fried chicken!) but we were there to try the new Sunday roasts, so I felt it only fair to go in hungry. Immediately things got interesting. There were the usual classics – spring chicken, leg of lamb, beef rump – and Romanesco as a veggie option, so far so Hackney – and then, fish. Roast fish? I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to square this with the accompaniments of roasted carrots, broccoli, potatoes, gravy and Yorkshire pudding, so we gave it a shot, along with lamb as a more traditional option.
The fish turned out to be a very generous portion of swordfish steak, tender and tasty, meaty enough to hold its own as a roast main. My lamb was pink and perfectly cooked; the vegetables hiding underneath were delicious, the roasting bringing out the full flavour. My only slight quibble would be the smoked potatoes – I may be old school, but for me a Sunday roast isn’t a Sunday roast without roast potatoes. Hold that thought.
Now, as you may be aware from my earlier reviews (What? Go back and read them immediately!) I have previous in not pacing myself properly and so not making it to dessert. The responsibility has been weighing heavily on my mind, so this time I was determined to step up. (It’s a tough job but hey.) We’d been advised not to miss the waffles here, so the first option was simple; waffle topped with Peruvian chocolate and quinoa ice cream. This would be a good sharing dessert – not only is it again a generous portion but the chocolate, whilst absolutely divine, is incredibly rich.
Which left my dessert choice.
So I’m reading down the list – Cheesecake with blueberry coulis, okay, Corn ice cream with Almond and truffle cake, that sounds interesting – when I come to ‘A Roasted Potato’. Just that – nothing else. I double check; it’s definitely part of the dessert menu. Clearly I have to order one.
What arrives looked disconcertingly like an actual roast potato. It was in fact potato ice cream (made with milk infused with red potato peelings) topped with chocolate crumble then coated in tempura batter and deep-fried, served topped with olive oil, chopped dried black olives and balsamic vinegar powder.
It’s bonkers – and really, really good. I mean, spectacularly, outstandingly good. I will definitely be back to Pachamama East for the Chifa dishes, and probably the DJ, but I will always, always order the Roasted Potato and I strongly suggest you do too.
73 GREAT EASTERN STREET LONDON, EC2A 3HR
Chatting Food Contributor: Amanda David
Freelance food writer, copywriter and blogger, dedicated to sharing news about London’s restaurants, bars, exhibitions and general wonderfulness. It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it.
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