My little sister recently ate at a Michelin starred restaurant. 'How was it?' I asked, when she returned. 'Excellent,' she said. 'But I'm starving.' I then watched as she polished off two chicken and mushroom pot noodles, and quickly moved the steak I was saving to the very back of our fridge. I absolutely loved the restaurant I went to this week, so I want to get the possible negatives out of the way quickly: you will need to spend a fair amount of money in Andina in order to feel truly stuffed. Full, I reckon you can manage on about £25 a head, excluding booze. And I highly recommend that you don't exclude the booze, because the pisco sours are exceptional.
Andina is part of the Ceviche group, which sprung up in Soho a couple of years ago and made it possible for ordinary people to eat like Victoria Beckham - endless variations of exquisitely beautiful slivers of fish, lemon and chilli. I went there for a birthday party, turned up early and had such a nice time drinking cocktails at the bar alone that I nearly missed joining my friends at all. I thought the food was so good that I went home and googled 'how to make ceviche'.
This was in Instagram's incubation period, so I sadly do not have a photo of the sorry, soggy pulp I created. Nonetheless, my own experiments had filled me with a newfound respect for the artistry at work at Ceviche, and a firm exhortation to learn to master it myself. (Or to earn more money, so I could stop all this gaffing about with lime juice and chilli and just pop back to the restaurant).It's 2016 now, and Andina have just launched a new Replenish menu, so I went along to see if it was as good as I had remembered.
The Replenish menu has been designed with Harry Jameson, a PT about whom I know nothing, except that if he cares enough about food to design an entire restaurant menu, he might be the only PT I would have anything in common with. The Andina menu tells me he is a 'fitness specialist', but then again, anyone can be a 'specialist' these days. I'm pretty sure the latest contestant on The Bachelor is a 'chicken specialist'.
I'd tell you more about the lofty aims of the Replenish menu, but it pretty much does as it says on the tin: replenishes. Oh- and on the back of the menu, where you would usually find drinks, there is instead a long list of the 'nutritional benefits of key ingredients'. I initially scoffed at this, but found it very useful for deciphering several of the native Peruvian ingredients, and using my newfound knowledge to impress my guest. There is also, for those of you who are now panicking, a note at the bottom of the page, encouraging you to 'see our separate drinks menu'.
I am certain that the calories, macronutrients and nutritional balance of the dishes would make clean-eating enthusiasts weep with joy. Personally, I'd much more discerning about what I put into my mouth. Luckily, the food at Andina is delicious.
We had corn cakes to start: huge, warm hunts of crumbly yellow softness served with salsa and avocado. This was followed by our mains - lumps of yellow fin tuna hidden inside a mini-mound of black quinoa, sloshed about with coconut milk and chilli; braised aubergine tacos that had the perfect salt-sweet mouth feel of really good 'street food'; perfectly grilled fillet steak, served with corn puree and chilli. We drank more pisco sours than was strictly necessary for a school night, stuffed our faces with super foods from the Peruvian Andes and left feeling smug, happy and, dare I say it, replenished?