Peruvian food is considered by many to be among the best in the world, with its inventive use of ingredients and subtle flavours. I’ve visited LIMA Floral in Covent Garden before, so was delighted to sample the Michelin starred cuisine at the very first London branch of LIMA. I had been invited to try the new bottomless brunch, featuring Pisco punches and tasty Peruvian dishes. Arriving at the attractive townhouse, I was struck by the bright blue and orange decor – a place after my own heart!
LIMA is the brainchild of well-known Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez and his partners, Gabriel and José-Luis Gonzalez, who wanted to bring Peruvian flavours to London. Virgilio’s good friend, Robert Ortiz, is Head Chef at LIMA Fitzrovia and fellow foodie Miriam and I were introduced to him during the meal. One of the nice things about this place is the open-plan kitchen, where you can see all the dishes being prepared. Our bottomless brunch kicked off with some delicious homemade bread and a complimentary appetizer of carrot soup with chicken stock.
As we perused the brunch menu, our friendly waitress explained the brunch concept to us. She had almost lost her voice but soldiered on with a friendly exuberance. The idea is to share a selection of starters, have a main course each and to choose desserts for the table. There’s a nice choice of pisco punches or prosecco for the bottomless brunch too. We loved the Pisco Punch Clasico, a refreshing long drink with pineapple, orange, lemon, clove and prosecco. Apparently, this classic cocktail became famous during the gold-rush years in San Francisco!
Our first starter for the table was a mixed ceviche of tuna, octopus and sea bream with Cuzco corn, heritage tomatoes and traditional tiger’s milk. Cuzco corn, or choclo, is a popular ingredient in Peruvian cooking and makes a great base for this dish. As for tiger’s milk, rest assured that it doesn’t come from tigers! It’s a citrus based marinade believed by some to be an aphrodisiac and a hangover cure and . The ceviche was perhaps my favourite dish on the menu, it was so fresh and bursting with flavour.
As you can see, each plate was more beautiful than the next – this is LIMA’s famous octopus dish with green lentils and Alfonso olives. It’s not part of the brunch menu but can be ordered in addition. Octopus is sometimes rather chewy but that wasn’t the case here, with every morsel being a delight.
Our next sharing starter was a delicate cobia fish tiradito with yellow tiger’s milk and squid ink tiger’s milk. Cobia fish deserves to be better known as it’s sustainable and high quality enough to be used in sushi and sashimi.
To go with our starters, we enjoyed a Verde punch, a long drink made from celery and pressed cucumber, together with Luna Pisco Torontel – very healthy and delicious to boot! Our final starter was another success – asparagus causa with tree tomato and yellow potato. The consistency of the base is close to mashed potato which I don’t eat, but I tasted the top of the dish and certainly enjoyed that. Tree tomatoes or tamarillos are actually fruits and they give this dish a pleasing sweetness.
For my main, I chose the lamb seco with coriander and pumpkin fritters. It had been slow-cooked in a stew and was beautifully tender – cooked just long enough to retain all its flavour.
With our mains we also enjoyed two sides – a Summer leaf salad of goat’s cheese, pomegranate and fresh fig and a broccoli, apple vinegar, red pepper and almond salad. The crunchy almonds made a really nice contrast with the broccoli.
Miriam’s main course was a very moreish hake a la plancha, cooked on a griddle. It had some interesting ingredients – seaweed and cuzco corn purée.
We finished our bottomless brunch in style with two sharing desserts – Peruvian doughnuts with eucalyptus syrup and Alfajores with dulce de leche ice cream. Alfajores are a traditional butter cookie and if you haven’t yet tried some, then you simply must! As for the doughnuts, I’m not normally a fan but these weren’t oversweet and I polished them off in no time.
LIMA Fitzrovia’s brunch is available at weekends and costs £35 for 6 courses, with a bottomless punch or prosecco option for an additional £20. Very reasonable for the amount but most importantly the quality of the food that we enjoyed.
Are you a fan of Peruvian food? Have you visited Peru?