In my eyes, food should be enjoyed at a leisurely pace, in adequate amounts and enough to leave you feeling satisfied yet not overly full. It must look good and taste good with style and substance playing equal roles. I was instantly drawn to Peruvian restaurant Lima when it opened its doors in June last year, after seeing beautifully looking photos circulating online. The reviews that followed were just as stunning as the photographs and when they were awarded with their very first Michelin star I knew I just had to visit.
There was just one issue, finding someone like me who prefers the small pretty portions offered by Lima over a massive burger and chips. This certainly isn’t Sam, but I felt a need to open his eyes to the world of fine dining, so I offered to foot the bill in return for his company. We headed to Lima for date night last Wednesday for our first taste of Peruvian food. Seated by 6pm, we benefited from the Pre-theatre menu, which was outstanding value at just £23 for three courses. We added a glass of wine which was £4 each, again good value we thought, except it merely covered the bottom of the glass.
The restaurant has a bright and modern interior and we were sat at a table by the main aisle. I’m incredibly fussy when it comes to seating and I don’t like being sat somewhere where people brush past me while I’m trying to eat. Regrettably, I asked if it was possible to move to a cosier table, so we were moved downstairs and placed at a table right by the backdoor, in which we could hear and see the staff polishing cutlery and scraping food off plates into the bin. Not ideal but that’ll teach me for opening my mouth. Anyhow, the basement was certainly nice and cosy and we felt relaxed. Once settled chilli bread with an almighty kick was served with dips of calming honey oil and almond yogurt which was fresh and tasty.
Sam and I both went for the duck, Amazonian nuts and giant Peruvian corn to start which was beautifully laid out on the plate and tasted equally as good. Sam was a little disappointed the duck was cold and suggested this is a cheats way out as the chefs can prepare cold starters en-mass during the day and just get them out of the fridge when ordered. I agreed but pointed out that this was Peruvian food, something we’ve never experienced before and that we should openly accept these weird and wonderful flavours.
I has the hot black bream ceviche, avocado and rocoto pepper for main as I love fish and knew ceviche was a traditional food of Peru. With my lack of Peruvian knowledge I should have really Googled what ceviche was as it turns out its a citrus chilli sauce, quite possibly my two least likeable flavours ever. Oh dear. Personal preference aside, the fish was well cooked and I loved the addition of avocado and pepper. Sam’s achiote braised partridge with yellow potato and sauco sauce had an overpowering onion taste, not the meaty flavour we were expecting. Again, this was well cooked and the creamy yellow potato mash a great accompaniment.
There was no hesitation when choosing dessert and we both went for the piura chocolate cake with lucuma cream. The presentation was sublime and I couldn’t help but snapping away with my camera much to Sam’s dismay. The chocolate cake was incredible dry and powdery but I kept explaining to Sam that this was food from Peru, not the classic British/Modern European cuisine he was used to. I loved the flavour of the cream which gave moisture to the cake, although I couldn’t help but wish there was a little more.
We had to ask for the ‘Petit Fours’ which were part of the menu and in the process taught the Spanish waiter (who was very nice indeed) what they were and how to pronounce it. I’m glad we asked because these included two and a half (not sure what the half was all about) chocolate truffles which were delicious. I wonder whether these are made in-house – very nice indeed.
We had a lovely meal at Lima and it was well worth the £23 price tag. Cocktails and wine meant the total bill came to £80 which was reasonable for a popular London restaurant. The food was well cooked, well presented and came with a smile. I left feeling happily satisfied but not stuffed which never happens on date night! Lima is a great little restaurant and one you must certainly take your camera to if you’re lucky enough to go. My first experience of Peruvian food was different and not unpleasant in the slightest, but I have to admit I couldn’t help but think I wish I had spent £80 on traditional British grub.
Living life, loving cake,