You might have noticed that when it comes to a drink to enjoy with my meal I’m usually a white wine kind of gal, so when Alhambra invited me for to join them for dinner at Coya, one of my favourite restaurants in London, for a beer paired meal I was more than a little intrigued.
Coya is famed for its incredible Peruvian cuisine, and was actually where I held my birthday dinner this year (I know, I still need to put it up on the blog), so I was very excited to return. As luck would have it, Jaime, who I had been trying to catch up with for the best part of 6 months was also going, and so we happily sat at Coya’s gorgeous bar and enjoyed our first tastes of the Spanish craft beer.
One thing that I love about Coya is the decor; bright, vibrant colours all around with impressive modern art and enough Peruvian touches to think that you’ve stepped off the tube and into the heart of Peru.
After the rest of the dinner guests had arrived, including the lovely Mehreen, we went through to the private dining room, which is right beside the kitchen, giving you the first taste of the incredible food at this restaurant. I’m not much of a beer drinker but I really enjoyed the light, refreshing taste of Alhambra reserva 1925. I could easily picture myself on a beach in Peru or Spain eating delicious ceviche and seafood and enjoying a crisp glass of Alhambra.
Alhambra love popping up where you might not expect them, for example in Peruvian restaurants, and I loved that all the little unexpected details that had been added to the dining room, such as these inventive candle holders!
We started with a selection of ceviche and light dishes which included seabream crillo served with amarillo chilli, crispy corn and corriander. A perfectly sharp, refreshing dish.
The Salmon nikkei had been one of my favourite dishes at my birthday and I was very excited to see this dish on the menu! Served with ginger, celery juice, daikon and wasabi tobiko it was just as perfect as I remembered, and I was more than happy to let it sit beside me as I heard more about Alhambra reserva and the different places it likes to be found.
Atun tiraditos, or yellowfin tuna, ginger and chilli salsa was another winner, with perfectly meaty slices of tuna being topped with zesty yet spicy flavours.
Our final little dish was esparragos Peruanos, which was josper asparagus served with aji amarillo and garlic. An unexpected hit in my books as I wasn’t sure it would match up to my beloved ceviche, but it was a lovely accompaniment to the rest of the dishes.
Between courses I really enjoyed hearing that Alhambra reserva 1925 was inspired by the first beers that the family brewed in Granada, and over time they’ve perfected their beer, ensuring it maintains the craftsmanship that first went into the product.
It would take a long time to go through all 12 dishes that we had, but I’ll give you the highlights. Octopus served with olives and josper potatoes, perfectly cooked and paired with Alhambra.
The most tender chicken cooked with aji amarillo and garlic, which was entirely moreish…
And the dish that surprised me the most that evening: ensalada de maiz, a josper corn, crispy corn, chilli and red onion salad that I fell in love with. I’m not a huge corn fan, but this traditional dish was extraordinary.
I do have to pause for a little note about these gambas fritos; usually made with tempura flour and carbonated water, the chef had switched the water for Alhambra giving the batter an unusual depth of flavour. So good in fact that seconds had to be ordered…
Our next selection included slightly more substantial dishes and some sides, once again, which were all excellently paired with Alhambra. Being a true wine girl I was really surprised by the number and variety of dishes that were paired with beer.
I loved the presentation of the tiger prawns with chilli salsa and the sprouting broccoli with chilli and garlic butter. Delicious pieces of tiger prawn were cooked exactly right and had a delicious chilli flavouring.
Another of my favourite dishes is Chilean seabass and I was excited to try Coya’s version. In line with the rest of the menu it was delicious; just as I had hoped thick, flavoursome chunks of seabass fell to the plate as soon as you touched the fillet.
Patatas bravas which were sat dangerously close to me were also a hit…
And finally in terms of meat dishes were the costillas de res; beef ribs cooked with Alhambra and aji limo. Incredibly tender, thin slices of beef cooked in a delicious marinade which we all loved. And it’s a dish that certainly has presentation points!
The last savoury dish of the evening was papa fresca; purple potatoes with summer vegetables, tomatoes and aji limo. I didn’t manage to try the dish but it looked beautiful.
Feeling ever so slightly full, I was glad to hear that desserts would be light! I loved the salted caramel ganache served with pisco (my favourite!) and raspberry sorbet. Sharp sorbet paired with the intense salted caramel ganache was an inspired combination.
For those slightly less addicted to chocolate than me, and a dessert which I know Jaime loved, was the mousse de coco. A coconut mousse served in a thin chocolate shell, with pineapple sorbet, lime and coconut granite, which was as delicious as it was prettily plated.
And for those in need of a healthier option, an exotic fruit platter to round everything off.
So the next time you’re considering a drink pairing for your menu, think of something a little less obvious and think of Alhambra! In terms of a restaurant that I think is perfect for a special occasion with friends, Coya is an obvious choice for amazing food and the best Pisco sours I’ve had in London!
I was a guest of Alhambra.