World-renowned Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez worked with Venezuelan brothers José-Luis and Gabriel Gonzalez to open Lima in Fitzrovia in 2012 and it earned a Michelin star the following year, becoming the first – and only – Peruvian restaurant to achieve such status.
Following that success, the trio launched a second location on Covent Garden’s Floral Street last summer, with Martinez’s long-time friend Robert Ortiz heading up both kitchens. It’s this new venue that EA Christine Hampson and I visit for our mutual first foray into Peruvian cuisine.
The décor here is low-key and stylish, with perfect mood lighting. After dinner, we’re taken on a tour of the basement, which provides ample space for a stunning bar featuring glass walls filled with dimly lit cactuses and plants, as well as a cosy private dining room that seats up to 12 and features its own menu.
Between the two of us, we know nothing about Peruvian food. Luckily, the menu is clear enough for even the pickiest eaters. I opt for the tartare beef causa, a cold dish served with a dollop of sour cream.
For mains, I go for the hot lobster ceviche in tiger’s milk (a citrus-based mixture of fish juice and spices) with a side of sweet potato purée and a fresh salad. It’s tangy with a zing of chilli and surprisingly filling.
On the dessert menu you’ll find interesting combinations you wouldn’t think to put together. I stay on the safe side with a rich chocolate mousse, which goes amazingly with crispy slivers of blue potato.
The experience at Lima isn’t just about the variety of colours in its dishes; the food is simple and tasty yet offers a great alternative to the usual suspects.
The PA verdict
I would call Lima a culinary culture experience! As it was the first time I’ve had Peruvian food I wasn’t sure what to expect and was very pleasantly surprised.
For starters, I had hot chicken causa. It was beautifully presented and tasted just as nice. It was a blend of yellow potato, chicken and avocado, which had a slight spicy flavour to it. I would definitely have this again from the menu.
My main was lamb rump Amazonia. The lamb was quite rare and although I would normally eat lamb a little more cooked it was extremely tender with a herb-flavour coating. It was served with potatoes, cheese and red kiwicha, which I had not eaten before, but it accompanied the lamb very nicely.
Dessert was coffee ice cream with purple potato and red kiwicha. It sounds an odd combination, but it tasted very nice when I ate the three items together. The portion was quite large and filling. Not sure if I would order this again.
The service was very good. The décor and the music made it a very welcoming restaurant – I would visit again and would certainly recommend it for corporate lunches. The downstairs had a private dining room for 12 that seemed quite intimate and would be good for exec lunch meetings.
Christine Hampson, EA, British Security Industry Association
14 Garrick Street, London WC2E 9BJ; 020 7240 5778