Peruvian restaurants are not hard to come by in London these days, with Ceviche, Tierra Peru, Coya and Lima all opening in the capital last year. As the sister restaurant to Central (recently voted Peru’s best restaurant), Lima has stood out from the crowd so far, with its sophisticated, contemporary approach to Peruvian cuisine and we loved it on an earlier visit.
In line with these ambitions, the restaurant is to offer a five-course tasting menu from early March, giving diners a great introduction to Peruvian flavours and ingredients. To find out more, we visited Lima last week, to get a sneak preview of what to expect.
Executive chef Virgilio Martinez, who divides his time between Central and Lima, was on hand to take us through the new dishes. “This menu is my UK interpretation of Peruvian cuisine”, he told us. “The flavours and style are very Peruvian but the dishes are centred around fresh, seasonal UK produce. The tasting menu at Lima is actually quite different to the one at Central, due to the produce that’s available”.
Before we get to the food, a special mention must be given to what seems to be the national drink of Peru: the Pisco sour. Made from Pisco, a Peruvian grape brandy, and the traditional sour base, these cocktails are simply delicious, and worth visiting Lima for alone.
Now, back to the food. First up was a beautifully fresh sea bream tiradito, with chia seed, yellow aji dressing and red amaranth flowers. Tiradito differs from ceviche primarily in the way the fish is cut – in long strips rather than thin slices. The chia seed and amaranth flowers were pretty but it was the aji dressing, giving the dish a kick of chilli heat, which made this a perfect starter.
The second course, and the only real disappointment of the night, was a purple potato ‘causa’ with asparagus and black quinoa. The potato had a strange chalky consistency, and the dish’s other elements were equally uninspiring. Happily, the meal continued with two stunning dishes, one of grilled octopus on a bed of corn and Amazonian cashews, and another of lamb shoulder with coriander potatoes. The lamb was particularly memorable, with the tender meat falling apart.
Dessert was a lucuma ice cream (lucuma is a fruit native to Peru) served on a bed of chocolate powder. While this didn’t quite elicit the same excitement as the previous two dishes, it was still a good end to proceedings.
Lima has received a few criticisms so far for serving small portions and being on the expensive side – a deadly combo for diners. But the new tasting menu is a great introduction to Peruvian cuisine, and at £43, at least you know how much you’re going to spend. Mind you, you could easily spend another £48 on those Pisco sours.
Lima, 31 Rathbone Place, London W1T 1JH. Find out more about Lima
Prices were correct at time of writing. Hot Dinners were invited to eat at LIma.