Andina

Sometimes (let’s be honest – pretty much every time) I go on brunch dates with friends, I feel like the greedy one – the one who wants to order several plates of food while everyone’s stuffed after one. There’s nothing worse than going for tapas with picky eaters with small appetites, so when I arranged this particular brunch date, I jumped at the opportunity to go to Andina. I’d been to Opso with this friend before, and we’d ordered an absolute feast between us – like me, she’s up for trying pretty much anything (except offal; we both agreed that’s firmly off the table!) and she can eat.. a lot!

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I’d been wanting to brunch at Andina for a while, but it’s not really Marcus’ scene – we went there once for a ‘light’ dinner after a particularly heavy day of eating in London but we both left pretty hungry, with deep holes in our pockets*! They were absolutely packed – they have a surprisingly large amount of seating inside with an upstairs area (including a bar where you can perch on stools), a huge downstairs area and a back room that I hadn’t noticed existed on my first visit.

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We got a lovely sharing table tucked away in the corner in the little back room and ordered coffees to start before trying to narrow down the huge menu. It’s no secret that brunch is by far my favourite meal to eat out for, but at Andina that’s especially the case. You can get everything that’s on their main menu for brunch, as well as extra breakfast items such as eggs, pancakes and granola. After all, what is brunch without eggs!?

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Since we eat pretty much everything, it was pretty hard to rule things out.. and with tapas I can get very carried away and although I absolutely love sharing lots of small plates, I am conscious that ordering a lot of plates (which are essentially almost main meal prices) can really add up. Although I’d have loved to try the entire menu I think we ordered a pretty good selection, but even so there were so many incredible dishes that we didn’t get the chance to try. Much as I am obsessed with the classic avocado and eggs on toast combination, for once I actually didn’t even feel the slightest temptation to order it – everything else just sounded so incredible!

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From top left, clockwise:

  • Camote Pancakes (sweet potato pancakes, spiced chancaca honey, coconut whipped cream, seasonal fruits and dry physallis)
  • Yana Ceviche (sustainable yellow fin tuna, rocoto tiger’s milk, pickled pineapple, black quinoa)
  • Bistec Escabechado (marinated grilled fillet steak, red onion, amarillo chilli, choclo corn purée)
  • Torrejas de Plátano (ripe plantain fritters, fresco cheese, chancaca honey and coriander)
  • Huevos Q’apachana (poached eggs, spicy potato purée, spinach, chestnut mushrooms, Huancaina sauce)
  • Pulpo Chancón (grilled octopus, lúcuma, butterbeans,
chancaca and limo honey sauce, tomato, red onions)
  • And the Chullo Salad in the middle (roasted pumpkin and beetroot, goldenberry-amarillo chilli vinaigrette, beetroot mustard, popcorn shoot, pumpkin seed & orange segment)

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The egg dish was so good. I absolutely love eggs and I will rarely go for a brunch where I don’t eat them at some point, but I wish more places served them like this! They were perfectly poached of course, served on a bed of potato purée which had a little kick to it, with simple wilted spinach, mushrooms and a beautiful sauce.

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The salad was the least salad-y looking salad I think I’ve ever had. Not in a bad way, it just wasn’t what we were expecting and I felt like when I’d read it on the menu it sounded a lot more exciting than sliced beetroot and pumpkin. It was delicious though and a lovely accompaniment to all of the other dishes, but I doubt I’d have missed it if it hadn’t turned up. Then again, it’s a salad – like it was ever realistically going to compete with steak. Or pancakes.

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To be honest, I don’t know if I’ve ever had plantain before. I feel like I must have tried it at some point but it certainly wasn’t as memorable as this. These plantain fritters were so good. Like order a plate each kind of good. Obviously they’re deep fried, so they were always going to be a winner.. but the plantain had a lovely mix of the soft, dense texture of a sweet potato, whilst being beautifully savoury – almost with a corn flavour coming through (that could’ve been the batter, I’m not sure!). It was served with a deliciously creamy soft cheese too – if you come as a couple be prepared to fight over the third one!

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I wasn’t too sure where I stood on ceviche. If I’m being honest, I love the idea of it but I’d never properly had it. I guess that’s partly because Marcus wouldn’t go near a piece of raw fish, partly because of the obscene prices most place charge and I definitely think that it’s one of those things where a bad experience can put you off for life. I had raw tuna once in Mauritius and it was dreadful. It wasn’t fresh, it wasn’t sliced well and it was just an all round terrible affair. Here though, as you’d probably expect, it was incredible. Possibly my favourite dish out of everything we ordered! It was so fresh and the texture was incredible – served with a simple sauce and presented beautifully.

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The pancakes were divine. I mean, I love pancakes so you’ve done well if you make a pancake that I don’t like, but these were amazing. So soft, light and fluffy and topped simply with beautifully sweet honey and velvety smooth coconut cream.

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I really do like the taste of octopus, but I have to admit seeing the suckers did put me off a little at first. When I stopped being a giant wimp and got over it, it was absolutely delicious though, as was the steak (obviously!) which was cooked to perfection. While we were eating I saw the Pudin de Maiz (Peruvian corn soufflé, smoked British bacon loin, poached free range egg, coriander hollandaise sauce) come out quite a few times. It seemed to be a popular choice and definitely regretted missing that from our order – it looked like a beautifully fluffy corn bread.. and I absolutely love corn bread!

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Since it was brunch and we’d generally ordered breakfasty items (kind of..) we didn’t get the thick cut chips (in my excitement for all of the other food I kind of forgot about them to be honest!), but I had them the first time I came and they were so good. Although it doesn’t specify on the menu like most places do, they must be triple cooked, as they have that incredibly crunchy and crisp exterior that can only be achieved by triple cooking. They’re so soft and fluffy on the inside too, and served with an amazing cheesy sauce. Cheesy chips – the refined version – that you actually enjoy sober!

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I even realised at the end of the meal that you can get all of the desserts from their main menu for brunch, but our allotted two hours was up and although they weren’t desperate to kick us out, we’d planned to coffee shop hop and get cookies and cake elsewhere so we didn’t actually look at the dessert menu. Looking back it was possibly a mistake not to try their desserts though – whilst I probably wouldn’t have chosen the Suspiro de Albaricoque (a fancy sounding tapioca and chia pudding) or the Chocomathi (confit butternut squash, peppered squash fruit, orange squash curd, pink praline), the Picarones Doughnuts sound so intriguing and incredibly unique – where else could you find pumpkin, purple maize syrup and chocolate fudge donuts!? Having said that, my friend introduced me to the cookies at Mast Brothers, and I will now never be able to visit the Shoreditch area without getting one! I’d been to the Mast store before to drool over their amazing (but bloody expensive!) chocolate but I’d somehow missed their cookies. In the glass jar they don’t look particularly spectacular, but the second they take the lid off and you’re hit with the beautifully sweet smell of their chocolate you know it’s going to be an awesome cookie!

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Seriously – no photo can do this thing justice. Think a more mature, refined version of Ben’s (which we all know I’m obsessed with!); crisp on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside, and packed full of their incredibly high quality chocolate with a sprinkle of sea salt which literally transforms it to a whole new level. It’s amazing that a few flakes of sea salt can turn a good cookie into a bloody incredible cookie.. then again, the genius who first thought of salted caramel obviously realised that a long time ago!

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There’s such a lively buzz inside this place and everything we ordered was amazing – it was all presented beautifully, it tasted amazing and each dish was so intricate, unique and well thought out. It’s pretty pricey, but no more so than other tapas places, and it’s definitely worth paying the extra for. I’d absolutely recommend it and I’d love to go back myself – I’d really like to take my parents there at some point (and not just in the hope that they’d pay!).

*Since I have been for dinner I’ve posted some old dinner pictures below – in fairness I’ve changed a lot since first moving down to London and this type of food is now much more my style than it previously was! It was all delicious but still not the type of place to go if you both have huge appetites.. as you’ll leave either hungry or penniless!

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