Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez’s much lauded London outpost, Lima, has just received its first Michelin star – and the first one ever granted to a Latin restaurant in Europe. Guess who was lucky enough to enjoy a leisurely lunch there the day after the big announcement? Yep. And I loved every last bite of it too.
So how’s this for delicious timing? My booking for lunch at Lima perfectly coincided with the fine dining restaurant’s first full day after being announced as a recipient of a Michelin star. I hadn’t even realised Michelin was going to announce its list for 2014 when I arranged to go. I had planned my visit to try the restaurant’s special Taste of Brazil dish of arapaima, an Amazonian river fish, served with tapioca and palm heart.
Taste of Brazil coincides with the Brazil Film Festival which runs until tomorrow (1 October) at Odeon Cinema Covent Garden and is definitely worth checking out.
And heck, my arapaima would have been reason enough for me to rave about the place. Head chef Roberto Ortiz worked magic with those massive chunks of meaty fish – and if love fish but have never had the pleasure of tasting aparaima, you should. But that was just one of his creations that blew me away.
Once a well crafted Pisco sour had whet my appetite, lunch commenced on a pert yet refined note with sea bream ceviche (with tiger’s milk, aji limo pepper, red onion and cancha corn, £10). The octopus olivo (braised octopus with organic white quinoa, botija olives and red shiso, £12) was so damn delicious I’m still craving a repeat days later. Beef “Pachamanca” (with wild black quinoa, huacatay herbs, cow’s milk and aji panca, £26) impressed as well.
Wild black quinoa – I’d love a heaping bowl of that stuff right it now.
A few glasses of Macon Charnay white Burgundy washed all that down nicely enough, and then it was onto dessert! Dulce de leche ice cream (£6) with beetroot emulsion and Andean maca root crust? Oh God yes. And by the way, dulce de leche with beetroot was as winning a combination if ever there was one.
I suppose when most folks go for Latin American food, they reckon they’re in for a big brash assault of flavour. That was not the case with my Lima lunch. Balance and subtly were the hallmarks of my visit.
Warm and friendly service – with everybody beaming with pride over the Michelin surprise (they really didn’t seem to have seen it coming) – a lovely dining space (especially when the sun shone through the glass roof), and a welcoming atmosphere of comfort complemented an exquisite dining experience that I suspect might go unsurpassed for quite some time.
Lima is located at 31 Rathbone Place, W1T 1JH. Find out more at limalondon.com.