Eat this: Paladar

The heart of Latin America is being served up with a gluten-free kick.

2 March 2018
free-fromLatin Americanrestaurant openingrestaurantsseafood
  • The Gist: The spirit of Latin American food with a twist
  • The Chef: Jose Rubio-Guevara
  • Location: 4-5 London Road, London SE1 6JZ
  • Food in 5 words: Gluten-free cuisine done creatively
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How did we get here?

When director of Paladar, Charles Tyler, set up a travel company to send people on tours to Latin America, he fell in love with the food and wine of the region. His new place has been unveiled in stages, with the wine bar and shop opening last year. Now, the restaurant has thrown its doors open.

“I think Latin America has got a lot of bad press and bad reputation here with negative stories of drugs, violence, crime, deforestation and economic collapse, but it’s an amazing continent with a lot going for it,” Tyler tells Food Spark. “More people here in the UK are interested in travelling there as its part of the world we don’t know so much about it.

“It seems also there is a bit of macro trend towards this cuisine in London. We’ve seen the opening of good Peruvian restaurants and Mexican taquerias recently. I think it’s the decade for Latin America over here... and they are really interesting cuisines that are a force to be reckoned with.”

Tyler notes that the Latin American movement has also been helped along by Martin Morales with his “ceviche empire,” along with Michelin-star restaurants like Lima and Lima Floral. And let's not forget Martha Ortiz, whose Ella Canta has recently been wowing London.

What’s different about it?

For a start, the menu is entirely gluten free. This wasn’t planned, Tyler explains, but once the menu had been designed they realised it was almost coeliac-friendly, so they decided to take it all the way.

“We use a lot of corn, which is maize rather than wheat, so it didn’t take an awful lot. There were certain things, like we would use a bit of soy sauce here and there and we use gluten-free sauce now, and we had to change a few ingredients and use gluten-free flour, so it wasn’t a huge change we had to make. The whole problem of gluten allergies has gone away,” he says.

The menu takes inspiration from Colombia, Ecuador and Cuba, as well as Mexico and Peru, but rather than serving up traditional dishes, the food is fusion with creative twists.

You’ve got to try...

The tuna tartare and quinoa tian with taro crisp and chipotle mayonnaise – a favourite of Tyler’s.

There’s also the sea bass ceviche with passionfruit tiger’s milk and cassava crisps. Ceviche is a classic Latin American dish that's been riding the raw-food wave, but Tyler says they are making it their own, with the passionfruit giving it a zing. They are also experimenting with other flavours for summer.

Sparkie also likes...

The blue corn churros with coffee dulce de leche and chocolate sauce – a signature dish for Paladar.

“It’s something I’ve never seen anywhere before. It’s churros made from a blue corn and purple corn mix, so when you see them and they look as if they are burnt, but they aren’t; they are just a very dark, blue/purple, almost black colour, and we sprinkle caster sugar on them. And they come with two dips,” Tyler says.

Go if...

You can’t afford the trip to Latin America but are curious about the cuisine, or want a taste of the exotic but don't want to guzzle gluten.

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