There’s something rather magical about Mayfair. Whether it’s the high-flyers dining out in their finest attire, heels in tow, or celebs snapping an Insta over in one of Annabel’s famous powder rooms, it’s an area of the city brimming with flamboyant eateries, eccentric bars, and nonstop nightlife. This also means the competition is high, and every eatery has to constantly be on top of their game in order to keep attracting the crowds. One place that seems to effortlessly sweep in the top dogs is Peruvian restauranteurs, COYA.
Despite being nestled in the heart of Mayfair, just a skip away from Green Park, you’ll find COYA channeling all the spirit of Latin America you could only dream of (outside of South America at least). As I made my way from Green Park station to the restaurant, soaking up the last of the sunny weather, and up the front steps to COYA, I was eager to see what this iconic restaurant was all about.
Born out of a love for adventure, COYA hopes to bring the lively and passionate culture Peru is known so greatly for, as well as transporting the finest Peruvian flavours lovingly to us Londoners. In terms of atmosphere, COYA was buzzing with fatigued workers clocking off work for the day with a Pisco bevvy, while groups of dolled-up women in heels and their partners dressed in suits set in for a wild night ahead (despite it being a Tuesday night).
The interiors were very much as expected, and throughout, it felt there was a mix of old and new in terms of style and texture. Gold velvety chairs aligned each table, while the brown leather sofa seats were adorned with multicoloured tapestry cushions, electric blue walls were paired with marbled top bars, all of which gave off a real sense of authenticity. Their sister restaurant over in Angel Court follows suit in this sense too.
Here in the Mayfair resto, you’ll find three main sections; the open plan restaurant with views of the bustling chefs busily crafting flavourful dishes for the evening guests, a Pisco bar and lounge equipped with its very own resident DJs pumping out electronica, down tempo, afro house and tech house, and their members’ club on the level above.
Let’s face it, we’ve all been to a gin palace, a rum joint, and an (extremely lethal) tequila bar, but one I was yet to tick off my list was a Pisco library. And, when you’re venturing into a high-class Peruvian resto in Mayfair, it’s only a matter of time because you start ordering a Pisco sour (or ten). I mean, Pisco is Peru’s national drink, it only felt right to soak up the authentic Latin American experience (even if it was on a school night). I’m slightly embarrassed to admit it but this was actually my first time trying a Pisco sour, and COYA certainly had an array to tuck into. As it was my first taste of the tipple, we were recommended to try the original to see what it was all about. A zing of citrus pierced through thanks to the fresh lime juice, and I’m already itching to go back to try their blueberry and lavender infusion!
Believe it or not, Peruvian cuisine isn’t just about London’s current food craze; ceviche. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll find it making a sneaky appearance on the menu but COYA’s focus is clearly on creating food to be shared. Here you’ll find traditional Peruvian dishes, yet they’re often created using Japanese, Chinese and Spanish cooking techniques which certainly spiced up my expectations further. My partner and I steered towards a selection of their vegetarian and vegan dishes, immediately with a bowl of dressed avocado which was destructed before our eyes. As always, the guac was a hit so we soon plunged the fresh corn tortillas into the subtly spiced and zingy appetiser.
Before we knew it our table was adorned with tapas-style treats with everything from grilled Peruvian style asparagus to a trio of corn salads, Josper grilled aubergine skewers to a light kale and manchego salad. First up, we had three mini vegetarian tacos brimming with grilled aubergine, peppers, chipotle chilli and masago arare. Much to our surprise they were actually served cold but offered a super refreshing treat with a sneaky kick. Another highlight was the melón helado which was actually a melon-style ceviche, something I never knew existed. It’s juices were soon trickling down the spoon, and went down a treat after some fiery heat from the rest of the sharing dishes.
There was one clear contender which arrived towards the end of the meal, off of their iron pots selection, the ‘papa seca’, which we quickly named the ‘birds nest’. Essentially it was every truffle lovers paradise, filled with Peruvian potatoes, wild mushrooms, truffles, and scattered with crisped potato strings, looking somewhat like a birds nest. It was rich, flavourful, and a creamy delight (and vegan!).
If you’re looking to add a little spice into your evening, I’d highly recommend venturing over to COYA Mayfair. The atmosphere was lively, food was sublime, and you’d be a fool not to go just for a Pisco cocktail!
COYA Mayfair can be found at 118 Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 7NW, www.coyarestaurant.com