Coya's Warrior Brunch
I've always wanted to visit Peru.
A jaunce around the lively streets of Lima, a sunny beach on my hotel step, though the trek up Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountain, not so much.
So imagine exiting Bank tube station, middle of the day Saturday to shades of grey and a trickle of rain. The fights out the station's exits, Monday to Friday only. Throgmorton Street poses no more excitement until the youthful cackles on one side of the street, merging with the squeals of others on the other side, ricochets off my eardrums.
We join this all-female lineup bordering the building. This, being the queue into Coya. A quick check on the watch says we're fifteen minutes ahead of sit down. Still, these fifteen minutes highlights that I've shortchanged myself on the dress code. Forgoing jewel colours for Queen Victoria's favourite, overlooking four-inch heels for a sensible pair of autumnal boots.
Well, don't do that. Instead, make like the supermodel you are and look your best.
Have you been to Peru? Mr Partially Well Travelled questioned.
Nope. Have you?
His answer mirrored mine.
So if I've not been to Peru and you've not been to Peru, how are we to gauge if Coya brought Peru to the Square Mile? I quizzed.
We can't, but I bet it's just like downtown Lima! Jesting.
We both laughed.
Coya flaunts its Peruvian cuisine. Their 'Warrior Brunch', an immersion into 'the smells, tastes, sounds and sights of Peru.'
Twelve thirty checks in, an orderly trail makes its way through Coya's jungle-clad interior entrance past ladies in warrior plumage. Bums are appointed seats, Veuve Clicquot bottles lose their tops, its liquid flowing freely, and a live DJ filled our heads with house music.
Just like downtown Lima.
A parade of tacos (de calabacin), tostada (de salmon) and croquetas (de lubina) vogues it onto the table. Guacamole filled mortars partner with rustic wooden bowls of tortillas onto the table. Of course, we are anywhere on the Inca Trail now. But it's the 'anticucho de setas', skewers of fleshy, indulgent forest mushrooms that had me asking.
Have you tried these?
We'd gouged on six dishes thus far, and our waitress stood telling of another five to come. I listen, but a pop of a guacamole filled shrimp cracker in my mouth sends me off to Asia. Thailand, if I am honest, so I am no longer listening.
Platters of food redecorate the table. I spend the same amount of time popping food into my mouth as I do, moving and removing plates. It's like a game of chess or maybe an assault course where only my hands and mouth are in battle.
Our waitress lays a dish of seabass ceviche, another of yellowfin tuna ceviche and a third, ceviche de zanaoria. Were you ever to forget whose warrior you are, three ceviche dishes should tap that memory into place. After all, it's the national dish of Peru.
My mouth tingles from the subtle spice and tang of the sea bass ceviche; I balance the tingle with that of the zanaoria.
Conversations peak, the music pumps, champagne bottles empty and waistlines expand. Cravings of guacamole and the trio of corn dish, do nothing to starve my glutton after eleven plates. I feel heavier than I did at nine months.
Is this where I tell you we've not yet had the mains?
Time for a truce in this warrior brunch. Time to take a walk, get air. We are glad for it, as giving birth never felt closer.
Still, nothing stopped us from indulging in the three instead of the two main courses laid out before us. A chink in the armour saw us receive a main course of steak. An addition to the corn fed chicken and seabass ordered. It's happened before, not in Coya mind. A trade secret we won't be sharing.
The latter, the seabass, is the standout dish, beautifully laced with chilli and lime. It is worth targeting with the bow and arrow of your eyes and arms.
We've now cleared twelve and a half dishes. I feel like I am carrying the chief warrior's twins, but the energy is high in the camp; we stay perked. Like an evening ritual, waiters prance through the restaurant, sparklers in one hand, outsized platters of desserts in the other.
These platters, not as overwhelming as their Instagram counterparts.
Wild whoops go up. The music has changed. It's heady. The warrior women we passed earlier, cut a rug around the tables in Coya. Or dare I say the jungles of the amazon, rounding up the troops.
It's not the thin air going up Huayna Picchu mountain that's left us giddy, rather the Clicquot it feels we've had intravenously. Coupled with the contagious mood in the camp, not much convincing is required at high noon, the middle of October, in the city of London to form an ecstatic conga line. The high makes you believe you have 'Moves like Jagger' when everyone knows Mick Jagger himself is the only person to do so. Yet I'm glad to be up and about melting off some of the overindulgences. Though my body soon tells me it's time to sit down. And it's not from the half bottle of Veuve Clicquot I didn't drink.
This Brunch IT scene is a long affair (12:30 to 4 pm), longer still, if staying after, the after-party but hedonistic.
A saxophonist enters, cuts a suave figure in head to toe black, but it's the hot date on his arm, a Swarovski dripping saxophone, that calls attention to the warriors. He is full of it. I blame not but envy some when he plays as he does. He's the antidote to a hell of a brunch.
So when are we going to Peru? Avoiding the gaze of the sugar-induced selection on the dessert platter.
We don't need to.
Why not? I pressed. My fork instead arrowing through melons and grapes.
Wasn't this just like downtown Lima?
We laughed out loud.
I say bring your best group of friends or friend. Coya's Warrior Brunch promises a rambunctious afternoon out.
Location: Unit 1C, 31-33 Throgmorton Street, London EC2N 2AT