Maria, co-founder of Crudo explains how she got started with Crudo, why Ceviche and what's next for their London expansion.
What was Crudo 5 years ago?
Five years ago, between our "real" 9-5 jobs, Carlos and I started selling Venezuelan street food at Brick Lane and Archway market. We were both born in Venezuela but grew up living in different countries across South and North America, and the Caribbean. Frequent moves developed our love for good food and experiences around it. Five years ago we moved to London and felt so lucky to be in a city with such a wide food diversity. We were also amazed by how Londoners embraced and enjoyed that diversity. We knew we wanted to contribute to it and that there were parts of our South American heritage that we would love to share
But sandwiched among other traders, we realised there was another gap in the market. Quality, affordable Ceviche. We ditched the crispy Croquetas and even crispier Tostones in lieu of Leche de Tigre and fish. Come 2019, we opened Crudo, London's first Cevicheria bar - focused on serving up fresh, healthy and flavourful ceviche bowls to time pressed Londoners.
Croquetas and Plantain Tostones from our two food stalls
What is Crudo today?
The short version? 4 Cevicherias and 1 wine bar.
The long version? Fast forward to today, and Crudo has blossomed into something even bigger than we ever imagined. It's not just about ceviche anymore; it has become a celebration of South American cuisines, with our own unique twist. Our menu boasts not just build-your-own bowls, but a variety of banging dishes from Peruvian-style ceviche and Japanese-inspired Nikkei tiraditos to Brazilian pão de queijo and Mexican-inspired tostadas.
Crudo was and will always be about bringing people together around great food and drinks. With every new Crudo location, we remain committed to our founding principles – shared menus featuring the freshest and finest ingredients. We want to introduce the city to new and exciting flavours, adding our own stamp to Peruvian classics while drawing inspiration from neighbouring regions and the familiar tastes of our vibrant city.
There are a couple of traditional Peruvian restaurants around London that are excellent with some of the best ceviche in the city. What we wanted to do was to put our twist on the traditional ceviche.
We still marinate our fish with Leche de Tigre - a tangy marinade using lime, chilis, fresh onions, aji amarillo - but every bowl has its own unique twist. Whilst a bulk of our menus includes ceviches, they've evolved to have more dishes and greater variety. We have a couple of tiraditos, small side dishes, easy snacks and killer deserts.
Our 3 signature ceviche bowls: Nikkei, Vegano, Clásico
Wine bar meets Cevicheria
We love wine. Really love wine. So when the opportunity to have our wine bar presented itself, it seemed like a sign. Tiny Wine, connected to our Fitzrovia cevicheria, is a (tiny) bar meets (tiny) shop showcasing a unique, ever-evolving list of wines and winemakers from around the world. You'll find a little bit of everything - from real classics to niche styles and bottles.
Whether you're an aspiring sommelier, or haven't the first idea of what wine you like, we want Tiny Wine to be a place for everyone. We also run regular private and group tastings and are hoping to do a lot more in the months to come. At the end of the day, we want people to have fun, to enjoy themselves, and if that means having a glass of wine or two, then so be it!
What's next for Crudo
In 5 years, we've opened 5 locations - 4 restaurants and our wine shop. That's massive.
Today, as we have evolved our concept to cater to customers that want to stay with us for longer, our mission is to grow as a network of “local Cevicherias”
Crudo has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a street food venture. Today, our cevicherias represent our love for entertaining and together, a vehicle for showcasing the very best of South American cooking. Who knows what the next 18 months will bring, but we're excited. All I can say is watch this space - we're cooking up something special.