Peruvian food. It’s everywhere. All the rage, and for good reason. Ceviche, Andina and Lima Fitzrovia are three of London’s most popular, with Nikkei food (Japanese Peruvian) at restaurants like Chotto Matte not far behind. Londoners are lining up not only for the fresh flavours, colourful potatoes (in my case) and original dishes, but also for the names. These are trendy restaurants, with good reputations. Ceviche and Andina are the ‘brain children’ of Martin Morales, Lima Fitzrovia was set up by Virgilio Martinez and Gabriel Gonzalez.
And now Martinez & Gonzalez are adding a new restaurant to their collection. Months ago I’d read about the opening of the new Lima ‘Lima Floral’, and since then have been keeping a sharp eye on when table bookings became available. I’d been to the original Lima Fitzrovia for lunch, a week before it was awarded a Michelin star (the first Peruvian restaurant in Europe to get one). I liked it a lot, despite having a terrible cold (the use of chilli always helps here).
So now for the new Lima Floral, on bustling Garrick street, where we arrived on their opening night last Wednesday. The space is white and light, with bursts of bright colour and modern art. The chairs are a strong blue. There are Peruvian cushions on the sofas. The menu is simple and straight forward. The starters are fairly fish and potato heavy (as one would expect from a Peruvian restaurant), with ceviche and causas featuring strongly. There were three of us and we shared everything. To start, we opted for the sea bass ceviche (a favourite, where the sea bass was soaked in tiger milk and melted in the mouth), the tuna causas (effectively a tuna tartar with bright yellow potato on the side) and the Escabeche Salad (almost raw beef with Algarrobo Syrup). The presentation is so stunning you don’t need an Instagram filter to make the food look good. Each dish had a pronounced kick to it which I loved. This was a theme all the dishes had in common: there was a boldness of flavour which was far stronger than I had noticed at Lima Fitzrovia.
For our mains we opted for the following:
Hot Ceviche a la Piedra – We just couldn’t get enough of the ceviche here and this warm ceviche was our favourite dish of the evening. Here the soft pieces of fish were surrounded by a delightful salty broth. I’d never had anything quite like this before and loved the addition of the sweet potato.
Grilled Monkfish – When cooked properly this is one of my favourite fish. And it did not disappoint. It was soaked in Green and Red Tiger Milk and the chilli gave it some real oomph.
Organic Chicken Chalaca – Succulent and rich in flavour. Great with the courgette ribbons and I enjoyed the Andean corn mash which was filling and light.
The food was fantastic. I also loved the complimentary bread basket with yoghurt dip while we were waiting for our food to arrive. Who knew quinoa bread could be so good?
The New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wine we opted for was as delicious as its name suggested and combined well with our fish-heavy orders.
One thing that disappointed was the waitress who served us: clearly trying her best but perhaps too attentive and her English could have been better. But that’s me just being overly critical. We were asked for our feedback – it was the opening night after all – and I really liked that.
As I left, I passed the open kitchen. It was a lovely sight: a number of chefs (the majority Peruvian looking) bent over a plate, feverishly working to create the perfect dish. It certainly worked for me.
14 Garrick Street