I’ve never been to South America but I imagine it to be a continent alive with shapes and colour: the bright green of the Amazon, the expansive blue of Lake Titicaca and the vibrant kaleidoscopic colours of the carnival! As is often the case, the food seems to reflect the culture and environment of the place and the ingredients originating from South America come in all different shades of the rainbow.
You know that old saying, ‘You eat with your eyes,’ well for me that’s so true. I can’t bear badly presented food in a restaurant and can’t stand a ‘beige’ plate of colourless food. Even though I haven’t had a chance to visit Peru, I still have the chance to experience those colours and flavours owing to the trend for Peruvian food that’s hit London. One of the best loved of these restaurants is Lima and the lastest branch of the restaurant in Floral Street was the perfect place to visit to brighten up a rainy Saturday.
Lima Floral is split across two spaces. Upstairs is a light and bright informal restaurant…
…. and downstairs is a more intimate and sexy Pisco Bar.
We would be eating in the basement bar surrounded by tiled walls and floor and flowers directly from the Amazon.
Behind the bar a rainbow of pisco infusion sat ready to be made into rather potent cocktails!
As I generally prefer lighter cocktails I chose a El Senor de Sipan which contains prosecco, apple juice, raspberry syrup, luna pisco and campari foam. It was lovely crisp and refreshing and if I closed my eyes it could almost be summertime :). Mr S had the Cuento del Diablo containing chilli pepper infused luna Pisco, orange liqueur, strawberry and lime. It was deliciously spicy and I loved the little horny devil horns!
Piscos are becoming hugely popular in London and if you haven’t heard of them they are yellowish brandy made in Peru and Chile. The bar at Lima Floral is the first Pisco Bar in London, I’ve heard of others opening up since and I think it’s a trend that going to keep going!
The parade of colour started with the bread: yellow and blue corn bread was served with a cool yogurt dip.
The menu of traditional Peruvian food was created by Vigilio Martinez who is also chef patron at Central, a restaurant ranked 15 in the world, and the best in Peru.
Dishes such as this tuna nikkei ceviche contain ingredients such a rocoto peppers, a plant which is native to South America. I adore Peruvian flavours which are so light and clean, and this dish also incorporates Japanese seasoning with the inclusion of ginger and soy sauce.
The plate of salmon tiradito was so vibrant and colourful with the yellow tiger’s milk and flame coloured sweet potato crisps. The dressing was non-greasy, zesty and bright…the whole thing really was sunshine on a plate. I also loved the play of texture that was present in this dish.
Cancha corn…something I’ve become addicted to this year.
Black bream ceviche with aji charapita pepper, coriander and lime juice was citrusy and fresh. Portions were small and the waiter explained to us that the downstairs bar was more of a tapas-style sharing concept, the dishes were smaller than in the restaurant and made for a kind of an introduction to Peruvian food.
For my next cocktail I decided to try the Noche de Verano which was vanilla infused Pisco, Amaro Nonino (an Italian liqueur), lime and lemon juice and strawberry.
The Mr went for a Pisco Sour containing passion fruit, Pisco, lime, sugar, egg white and bitters. It was also very summery, kind of like a passion fruit mojito.
Beef anticucho was made using Chateau Briande steak and served with dried Peruvian chillies and corn puree which was kind of like a mashed sweet potato. The meat was beautifully cooked with a big kick of spice!
Butterfish tiradito contained tree tomato, again an ingredient native to South America.
Finally we chose one of the specials, a hot ceviche which contained grilled sea bass, corn puree and yellow aji pepper. One things that really strikes me about Peruvian food is how good it is for people with dietary requirements. For example, there were lots of vegetarian options on the menu and it’s ideal for people with gluten intolerances. Peruvian food uses a lot of corn, the bread is baked with cornflour and the sauces are often thickened with corn instead of flour. Lots of the dishes incorporate quinoa which is a fab super food and are great wheat-free alternative.
Our waiter, who was very knowledgable and passionate about the food, suggested that try some of the Pisco in it’s pure form and he presented us with a flight of three that included vanilla, lime and coffee infused Piscos. I took a tiny sip of the vanilla – but that was enough for me, it’s very potent!
Our final dish was a passion fruit yogurt that was topped with caramel and yerba buena which is a Peruvian herb that belongs to the mint family. Rather interestingly the yogurt was sat on a bed of quinoa, the combination worked very well and it was the perfect way to round off an absolutely fantastic lunch.
Thank you Lima Floral for helping us taste the rainbow!
14 Garrick Street
Our cocktails and four of our dishes were complimentary