Hidden beneath Smiths Bar & Grill, away from busy Paddington Central, Ayllu is a swanky Peruvian restaurant serving traditional dishes also influenced by the flavours and aromas of Japan.
Taking its name from a historical Peruvian group of families called the Ayllu, this contemporary restaurant is all about sharing fresh plates of food in a cool but cosy setting.
Ayllu’s decor is chic through and through, with the walls and plush leather booths all done up in dark green. Oversized pendant light bulbs hang from the ceiling at one end of the room and at the other glows a backlit bar stacked with a huge array of spirits.
The menu is full of classic Peruvian fusion dishes and begins with small plates such as guacamole served with prawn crackers and corn tortillas, pork bao buns, and croquetas de pescados served with a hot chilli mayo. These are followed by a selection of traditional South American dishes such as tiraditos, anticuchos, tacos and ceviches.
Larger plates include seafood dishes such as grilled octopus glazed with teriyaki sauce and served on a corn purée, and a whole sea bream marinated in mirin. There are also meatier offerings available including baby chicken, served with grilled vegetables, coriander and a mint aioli, as well as spiced picanha – a fatty cut of beef which is particularly popular in South America. For dessert, expect favourites such as churros and baked cheesecake.
The drinks offering at Ayllu is just as central to the restaurant as the food and is predominantly focused around cocktails. Unusual concoctions include the Red Hot Chilli Pepper which combines mescal with Grand Marnier, sours and jalapeno syrup, and also a couple of beer-based cocktails, one of which pairs Corona with mango syrup and chai tea. If you’re looking for something a little more classic, there’s also the option to share a jug of sangria.