There is something new and exciting at Sandinista! Mama Pacha have set up home in their kitchen, bringing Peruvian tapas to Manchester and a truly unique menu that really does delight the tastebuds. The dishes are inspired by head chef, Jose’s mothers recipes, which is common when it comes to cooking in Peru. Similar to Spanish tapas, the small plates arrive to your table when they are ready but the flavours, let me tell you, they are something else.
The menu has an excellent selection of meat and fish, vegetarian and nibbles, sure to please any visitor. I expected all the dishes to be spicy, associating South American food with heat, but instead they are full of flavour and predominantly lightly spiced.
We started with some nibbles and the Tortilla Chips, which are an assortment of colours served with guacamole and a mango salsa. The guac was particularly garlicky, just the way I like it, and the salsa was peppered with roquito peppers for a touch of sweetness and something a little different than normal nachos.
Peruvian style patatas bravas see the fried potatoes topped with a lightly spiced tomato sauce and huancaina sauce for richness. It adds a nice creamy element that brings down the heat of the tomato sauce but also gives you a dipping choice. Always a winner for me. The Marinated Steak Skewers were so good we ordered 2 plates of them. Spicy steak that it literally just cooked through so still soft and juicy. The spice is a pleasant heat that warms the mouth rather than overpowers it, and it also had a subtle sweetness to it. I would have been happy with several plates of these alone.
Something else I will be back for is the Salchipapas. Three types of sausage – chistorra, chorizo and frankfurter, are topped with mixed potato fries, hot sauce and spicy mayonnaise. It is the first time I have ever seen chistorra in this country so it made me quite sentimental of trips to Spain as a child.
The Pork Belly Squares arrived handsomely atop a sweet potato puree, topped with sweet yet spicy onions. The pork is lightly crispy on the outside with the centre soft and fatty, as you would hope.
The only dish I wasn’t overly sold on was the Octopus. The chilli and potato puree underneath the flambeed octopus was cold, whilst the octopus was hot, meaning it clashed somewhat for me. I am not a huge fan of hot and cold in the same dish, but the octopus on its own was lovely. Not rubbery, fresh and well seasoned.
Dessert is limited to one option, but that is a sharing platter of three so, you know, all is not lost. The little biscuits are like a very soft shortbread sandwiched together with a light caramel, which were delicious dunked between the fruit jam in the centre and the creamy ice cream to the left of the photograph. It was a surprisingly light dessert considering there were three elements to it and a lovely way to try something different that I had not seen before.
I was fully expecting the food to be like Spanish tapas but it has a lovely twist to it and I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious each of the dishes were. Sandinista has also revamped their cocktail menu with some Peruvian options to compliment the menu. I mean, it would be rude not to.
I was invited to dine as a guest of Mama Pacha and was not asked to pay for my meal.