Restaurant Review: Lima

Mimi ON Oct 01, 2012 AT 3:37 pm

by Chrissy Iley

I didn’t know Peru had an exciting cuisine, or in fact any cuisine at all. The only time I’d ever heard Peruvian as a description of something that was ingested was as a prefix to marching powder. Call me old fashioned, but I assumed they were so busy on their marching powder they weren’t very hungry in Peru.

Who even knows what the national liqueur is? Although I do now. It’s called pisco. It’s their go to. It is to Peru what cachaça is to Brazil.

Lima, situated in Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, already had a high fashion intrigue about it. Inside it is geometric modern, colourful but minimal. And it boasts Virgilio Martinez as a chef, who is patron of Central in Lima, voted one of the country’s best restaurants.

Nothing about it suggested hippie alpaca sweater or Paddington bear. It could have been extremely off-putting. I was in an extremely bad mood. Limping with a swollen foot and possible cat scratch fever. The restaurant was rammed and I refused to go downstairs. I would have thrown me out I pulled such a face. They were polite without being obsequious, a little confused as to why they would be confronted with such anger when everybody else in there seemed so ridiculously grateful.

The waitress whose accent I think was French, not Peruvian, immediately suggested a cocktail called Cuento Del Diablo. It’s pink, comes in a martini glass: chilli, pisco, strawberry, lime, and they put adorable mini chilli peppers as devils horns on the glass’s edge, perhaps because I was doing such a good job of being the Diablo I reminded the waitress of the drink.

Cuento Del Diablo

I was in the kind of mood that bad food would have made me combust. But instead I was greeted with small but palate challenging menu of delicious, elegant plates.

The descriptions of each plate are very lively and boundary pushing. Fortunately the food itself is more lovely and innovative rather than crazy. For instance the sea bream ceviche comes with ‘white tiger’s milk, sweet onion skin and Inca corn.’ My first thought was, I didn’t know they had white tigers in Peru. I thought they were Arctic animals. Wait a minute, does Peru stretch to the Antarctic. Is that the same thing? How do they milk a tiger?

It turns out to be nothing to do with tigers. It is a citrus-based chilli-fused marinade that cures seafood in a ceviche.

Sea Bream Ceviche

We had the organic salmon tiradito, rocoto pepper, tiger’s milk, samphire, ginger. I haven’t eaten salmon for a long time, but this was deliciously textured, cured, bursting with deliciousness (and tiger’s milk). We also had asparagus Peru, purple potato, heirloom tomatoes and sacha inchi oil. Something about the purpleness made it exquisite.

The plates are for sharing or not sharing – depending on your mood, relationship and communal taste with your dining companion.

For mains we had merluza, kohlrabi with capers, piquillo and maca root compote; and crab, purple corn reduction, huauro potato 4000 metres, red kiwicha.

I love the idea of purple food. Purple is one of my favourite colours. And it doesn’t come with any preconceptions of what purple should taste like, but I can tell you it’s a mixture of cosy and edgy. The 4000 metres potatoes describe potatoes that are 4000 metres high, not sure why we need to know that. They were tasty.

It’s a small menu but good choices. For dessert I had dulce de leche ice cream; beetroot emulsion and Amazonian maca root honey, which was pretty amazing, and we also ended up with the out of this world cacao peorcelana 75%, mango and hierbabuena granite, blue potato crystal. This was heaven on a plate, the contrast of the bitter creamy chocolate and the piquant sweet mango. The squidgness of it set off by the blue potato crystals. The textures all contradict and complement each other in an extremely well thought out way.

Cacao Porcelana 75%

I’m not sure if it’s Virgilio Martinez the chef or Peru itself but Peru could be the new go to cuisine.

 Lima, 31 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1JH, 020 3002 2640 Limalondon.com

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