Restaurant Review: Chicha
Bold Street, Liverpool
Review by Mark Langshaw
Liverpudlians can be forgiven for never having sampled Peruvian food before a visit to Chicha. Bold Street’s new addition is the first restaurant in the city dedicated to the land of the Incas and one of only a handful in the country outside of London.
We need more of them on these shores if my dining experience is anything to go by. I was immediately taken in by the eatery’s positive vibes – the result of warm lighting, mellow music and vibrant, graffiti-themed artwork.
Chicha scores highly in the bohemian cool stakes, but what about the food? I’d be ready to answer that question after sampling the authentic Peruvian cocktails its capable bar staff whip up.
I started with a Strawberry Chilcano – a refreshing blend of strawberry puree, lime juice and ginger ale, nicely spiced by a dash of Peruvian rum derivative picso – while my dining partner opted for a Manzana Smash (both £7.50).
My date’s drink was a traditional blend of lime juice, fresh apple, apple soda and sugar syrup – surely that combo counts towards your five a day – which delivered its titular smash thanks to the inclusion of Agwa de Bolivia; a sweet and tangy liquor that brings a party to your pallet.
With taste buds primed and stomachs lined with a perhaps overly generous serving of complimentary dipping bread, we dived straight into the mains. At Chicha they consist of tapas-style dishes with a South American twist.
Upon the recommendation of our friendly waitress, who proved a reliable source during the cocktail course, we each chose three dishes to sample. Both of us plumped for the Chicken Liver and Pisco Pate (£4) and the Aji Chilli Barbecue Ribs (£6).
To complete my main course, I selected the Peruvian Potato and Mackerel Fishcakes (£4.50) and my date chose the Spiced Slow Braised Pork Belly (£5.50).
Sweet meets savoury is a running theme at Chicha and its kitchen staff are truly masters of blending these two opposing forces. For instance, the chicken liver pate packed a welcome tang thanks to the inclusion of grapefruit marmalade and went down a treat on the freshly baked ciabatta.
Moreover, even the most avid rib enthusiast would struggle to find fault in the plate of barbecue-coated goodness we were served. The succulent meat melted off the bone and the yellow chilli salsa was offset against a lacing of lime, making the dish another successful sweet-savoury combo.
The Braised Pork Belly let the side down somewhat, with a fat-to-prime-cut ratio which swung in blubber’s favour – but the fishcakes were another hit, pleasantly crispy on the outside and brought to life by a side helping of zesty balsamic beets.
Three of Chicha’s plateloads turned out to be more than enough for our stomachs but, in the name of duty, we shared a Venezuelan Chocolate Brownie (£5.50) for afters.
It was rich and indulgent, but the brownie itself was upstaged by the sumptuous scoop of banana ice cream on the side. My date and I agreed that we could have easily devoured it by the bucketload.
Chicha is another welcome addition to Bold Street’s burgeoning restaurant offering, bringing a dash of South American colour to the food quarter and flavours which will delight fans of the sweet-savoury combo.