Posted on Wednesday, 5th December 2012
Peruvian restaurants are all the rage right now. At one end of the spectrum, there is the ever-busy, ever-popular crowd pleaser Ceviche. But towards the more upmarket end, there is Lima on Rathbone Street, a Peruvian restaurant that blends the traditional with the contemporary and which was recently voted as the ‘One to Watch’ at the 2012 National Restaurants Awards.
The people behind Lima include chef Virgilio Martinez, who is currently chef patron of Central restaurant in Lima, named as the best restaurant in Peru by the 2012 Summum Guide. Prior to that, he headed up the kitchen at Astrid y Gaston, a notable restaurant in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Lima’s Head chef is Virgilio’s long-time friend Robert Ortiz, who for the last five years has been part of the creative team at Central. There’s a strong cooking pedigree behind the restaurant and the menu reads like a dream – exciting, creative and enthralling with its strong use of South American ingredients. Lima is refreshing and modern in its design with an Aztec-like feel running through the restaurant.
A starter of bay scallops tiradito (raw), yellow aji emulsion, umami salt and cassava (£8) was distinctively interesting. The scallops were sweet and the emulsion added a delicate hint of spiciness to this beautifully presented, eclectic and delicious dish.
Duck crudo, algarrobo tree honey, shaved foie gras and ghoa cress (£10) also tasted divine. The duck was incredibly tender, but it was the generous shavings of rich foie gras that electrified the flavours of this dish. The honey added a lovely sweetness, and the cress was both decorative and fresh.
Confit of suckling pig with roasted Amazonian cashews, lentils and pear (£20) was tasty. The pork was meltingly tender and there was a little crunchiness to the skin. However the accompaniment of lentils was quite salty.
Braised lamb shoulder (£22) was also reasonably tender. Coriander and pisco jus, black quinoa and white grapes were a nice match for the lamb but unfortunately were again slightly over seasoned.
Cacao porcelana (75%), mango and hierbabuena granita and blue potato crystal/crisps (£8) was arresting in its presentation. The cacao was rich and gooey, and the mango and blue potato provided a lovely contrast.
The service was good, no doubt because of the wealth of experience brought to the table by Restaurant Manager Bunmi Okolosi who was previously at Boundary, La Pont de la Tour, and was most recently the Maitre D’ at the Michelin starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.
The starters were the highlights of the day and fantastically so. Much skill and creativity went into the creation of those dishes. In fact the entire menu made for an interesting and original read.
A high level of expertise was on show with the mains, although the seasoning let both the lamb and pork down. But I would not hesitate to go to Lima again. There are many items on the menu that reads like they deserve to be tried, and with a few tweaks, Lima has the potential to shine. No wonder it is ‘One to Watch’.
Food rating: 4/5
Service rating: 3.5/5
Price range: £31 to £40 for three courses excluding drinks and service.