Inca Plebeyo, Islington, London - A Latin American Restaurant in North London

December 13, 2015

Inca Plebeyo

Ceviche is London’s best-known and most successful Peruvian restaurant – its two outlets regularly packed to the rafters while bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (and, it should be said) friendly staff survey a scene of corybantic, Pisco-induced joy.  And not without good reason.  As the Bear can testify, the food is excellent.  But, as the capital’s thirst for all things Latin American reaches Brobdingnagian proportions, it takes more than one voguish restaurant to slake the Bear’s thirst.

And so to this distinctly unassuming Islington ceviche joint.  It’s immediately adjacent to Tierra Peru, which was busier (as in, there were people in there) and which certainly had a more visible presence on social media (as in, it had one).  Truth be told, unless the Bear lived around the corner, it wouldn’t have known that Inca Plebeyo was there.  But back to that later.

The menu offered four types of ceviche – the “clasico” (the Bear assumes prior knowledge), the “ecuatoriano” with lemon juice and tamarillo, the “camarones” with blue prawns instead of sea bass, and a vegetarian option employing some seriously large ‘shrooms.  All four were superb.  The jolly chef, Jorge, was keen to introduce himself and explain that, as Inca Plebeyo is an Ecuadorian restaurant, the ceviche is slightly different – it is served in a sauce (or a soup) with lots of fresh tomato and onion, and less lime juice than the Peruvian version.  Whatever – the Bear sent it all down the hatch post-haste.  Well, when you’re sharing with others and you’re presented with something this good, you either eat immediately or forever hold your peace.

Main courses followed – sirloin steak, lamb rump and pork belly all went down the hatch, although not in nearly such a rush, as these were truly meats to be savoured.  All meat, no fat, and melted in the mouth.  Sides included the “ensalada de habas” salad (it’s unclear whether one can call something involving pomegranate, chilli and cheese a “salad”, but the Bear is not minded to doubt Jorge where the kitchen is concerned).

The Bear didn’t like the desserts, but you can’t really order something that contains liquorice, and then complain when it tastes of liquorice, on the basis that you don’t like liquorice.  Such was the ambrosia that Jorge had served up for starter and main course, the Bear hoped that he might be able to make liquorice palatable.  But seemingly there are some tasks too Sisyphean even for our mestizo maestro.

The verdict – the food is great.  The service is friendly.  The bill is reasonable.  Jorge is a big lad – and there’s mileage in the maxim that you never trust a skinny cook.  Inca Plebeyo deserves to be busier.  It would be busier if it wasn’t on the distinctly dreary Essex Road and could attract food traffic (yes, food traffic).  It will be busier once word of its food gets out.  Don’t say the Bear didn’t tell you!

162 Essex Road, London N1 8LY
(020) 7704 9393

Square Meal

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