Peruvian cooking is very hot right now, it’s so diverse and healthy. One of the best Peruvian restaurants in London is LIMA and its little sister, LIMA Floral serves up cuisine that’s hot in more ways than one, with devilishly good pisco. Handily located in Covent Garden, it’s housed in a very attractive brick building.
LIMA Floral is split into two spaces, a main restaurant serving up innovative dishes overseen by Virgilio Martinez and Head Chef Robert Ortiz. Virgilio is chef patron of Central in Lima, Peru which is ranked number 4 in San Pellegrino’s list of the World’s 50 best restaurants. I’d been invited to the Pisco Bar, located downstairs and with a menu designed for sharing.
Serving up small piqueos dishes, they’re a sort of Peruvian tapas and most can be eaten as finger food. The vibe both upstairs and downstairs is very relaxed and unpretentious, with brick walls giving a cosy feel.
Our friendly hosts gave us a cocktail making demonstration, and I would have probably paid a lot of attention if I’d have realized that we’d be replicating their efforts afterwards! Lima Floral has a long cocktail list based on Pisco infusions, mixed with Andean herbs and Amazonian fruits. Pisco itself is a Peruvian brandy and pisco sours are cocktails made from pisco, Angustura bitters, egg white and lemon juice. I couldn’t resist the Cuento del Diablo pisco, a fiendishly good cocktail adorned with chilli horns and infused with chilli pepper, lime, orange liqueur and strawberry. It certainly had a good kick yet it wasn’t so strong that you need water after drinking it.
With our cocktail, we were brought a beautifully presented ceviche, decorated with edible flowers and seaweed salad. If this dish looks a rather lurid yellow shade, it’s the citrus marinade or tiger milk (not actually from tigers!) that gives it that aspect but it tastes wonderful and complements the ceviche perfectly.
We savoured this with an El Senor de Sipan cocktail, a frothy concoction that rivalled the devilish pisco for presentation. I loved the mix of apple juice, campari, luna pisco, prosecco and raspberry juice. It would be all too easy to get through lots of these, as it didn’t taste strong, just delightfully moreish.
Our next tasting dish was this stunning yellow potato causa with tuna tartare. I didn’t actually taste this as there are only two foods that I actively dislike, baked beans and mashed potato. With this dish, the potatoes are mashed and seasoned with aji Amarillo and lime. The name causa comes from the Incan word meaning “that which gives life” so it was a shame not to try them, but I’ve tried to get over this mashed potato phobia and failed a few times 😉
The vegetarian substitute also had mashed potato so they rustled up a special dish for me involving roasted black quinoa which looked beautiful but was a little too mild for me. I should have eaten the tuna tartare on its own!
Lima Floral, 14 Garrick Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9BJ