I really like Pachamama, so when I read that they had opened a new spot in Chelsea called Chicama, I immediately made a resi for a dinner with our friends Shane and Ashleigh. I got a bit concerned when I read that they don’t serve any meat and that the menu is centred on seafood and veggie dishes exclusively. Shane and Stewart and the guys tend to go out, and always devour copious amounts of meat so I double checked if they would be ok to go meatless for one night only.Chicama is absolutely adorable and buzzy and even has an outdoor seating area, something that London just doesn’t have enough of. It is also the perfect addition to Chelsea as it is fun, the menu is exciting and you can imagine that Pilates hotties will want to eat little dishes of raw fish and be healthy should they choose to.
The menu is based on sharing dishes and they suggested circa four per person. We took that with a grain of salt and ordered five or so and it was plenty of food.
Sadly, the service was a bit of a disaster. They claimed there were issues with the system but apart from the manager, everyone else who helped us seemed to be running around with their heads chopped. I didn’t get my drinks order taken for 30 minutes after I sat, and at that point had to chase someone. Same with the food – the orders got mixed up and it took forever. At least they didn’t kick us out after two hours, as it took three and a half to get through our meal. When the bill came, six of the items had been duplicated… anyway! The manager was very apologetic and since they got it right at Pachamama, I believe they will as well as Chicama in time, but maybe give them a couple of weeks before visiting!
What we ate:
Popped-corn monkfish cheeks, ají amarillo mayo: this was in the snack menu, and Shane confessed that whenever he sees monkfish on a menu, he orders it as he thinks he loves it. Once it arrives, he usually realizes he doesn’t love it really, so this was his last attempt at figuring out if he loved this meaty fish or not. The morsels were perfectly fried, crunchy on the outside and hot inside and served with a bright and slightly spicy aji amarillo (type of chili pepper) sauce. Unfortunately, it didn’t solve his conundrum as the monkfishness was not evident in the dish and it could have been any other fish.
Padron peppers: a classic and always a good option when you are hungry as it usually comes quickly, though inevitably not in this case.
Courgette & cornmeal beignets, herb mayo, chili jam: tasty warm morsels to kick start the meal. Not necessarily a must order but very good.
Sprouting Broccoli, coffee & chilli deep: our waiter told us this was a must must eat and also said the aubergine had to be ordered. We must have had very different palates as the broccoli was fine but not mind blowing. Just well-cooked broccoli with a sauce.
Fried aubergine, plantain miso, pecans: we didn’t order this as the boys both hate aubergine but they attempted to deliver it to our table twice and we kept sending it back. Finally the manager brought it and said it was courtesy of the house. The aubergine was way too goopy and the sauce slightly sweet and it just didn’t work.
Charred asparagus, creamed corn, queso fresco and chili: seemed exciting from the description but the cheese was way too bland. The asparagus were perfectly grilled and good.
Sea bream ceviche, grilled peach, radish, basil, white tiger’s milk, jalapeño: THE BEST dish of the night. Ashleigh was not feeling great so we didn’t order many ceviches but I would probably order all of them in the menu on a future visit based on how good this one was. The little cubes of fish were perfect and the tiger milk was citrusy, fresh and fantastic and the dish had a subtle kick from the jalapeno.
Cornish crab salad, green papaya, daikon, lemon verbena: oh, actually, this dish was also AMAZING! There could have been a bit more crab but the papaya and daikon was crunchy and the dish was summery and had a great kick, so so good!
Blackened octopus, confit potato, sundried tomato chimichurri, cauliflower: another excellent dish. It is really not easy to cook octopus well and this one was very tender and served with a great combination of the chimichurri to add some heat, and the some well roasted cauliflower. The confit potato was also new and exciting, and had a delicious texture and subtle sweetness to it. Yum!
At this point we almost cancelled the fish dishes that were about to come as it was taking way too long. The manager jumped in and made it come quickly.
Trout cooked in banana leaf with red quinoa and mango & ají limo sauce: we had high hopes for this dish but it was the worst of the night. The trout was so overcooked, dry and slightly fishy which is surprising as it was supposed to have been cooked inside the banana leaf. There was some quinoa tightly packed on top of the fish that also served no purpose as it didn’t add any flavour – skip!
Sea Bream: on the fish menu there is a list of various fish that come served whole. They come daily from Cornwall and cooked over charcoal. We should have asked for it to be deboned as it took a while once they took it back to the kitchen. We had asked for the avocado jalapeño sauce but they had run out and served with the smoked ají panca horseradish instead which was way too smoky and overpowering.
Black rice: absolutely delicious. Not sure why it was so tasty but it was!
Banana & yuzu ice cream, torched meringue, coconut: way, way too sweet. Looked very nice but I wouldn’t order again.
Puira Porcelana chocolate, chocolate crumb, chocolate mousse: this was a delicious dessert. The mousse was thick and rich and delicious and the crumbs and other chocolate bits on top added great texture. Even Stewart who doesn’t love mousse kept going back for more.
In sum: Chicama has great potential. A lot of the dishes were great, the place has great energy and vibe but they really need to get their S**T together when it comes to service… but I would definitely give it another shot. If I can get a booking in the future. It will get busy!