LIMA, located between Goodge Street and Tottenham Court Road in the West End, is a little different from many of its fine dining cohort. Yes, the calibre of exemplary ingredients and gorgeous presentation you would expect from luxury dining is maintained – and arguably exceeded – here, but all the pretentious rules are left at the door. The pioneering Peruvian restaurant celebrated its 10th birthday in 2022, and to mark the occasion have undergone a transformation to kickstart their next decade in the capital.
Transporting guests to the culinary capital of South America (and the restaurant’s namesake), LIMA celebrates Peruvian culture through everything they do at the restaurant. Staff exude warm hospitality, while the decor draws inspiration from Peruvian landscapes: think greens, blues, yellows and reds. Hanging from the skylight is a quipu – an ancient record-keeping system used by the Inca people, made from string and wool – recreated by local British artists.
The food at LIMA
The a la carte menu at LIMA comprises a carefully curated list of bites, starters, mains and dessert; you also have the option of the vibrant, six-course tasting menu representing the Pacific Coast, the Andes Mountain range, and the Amazon. We opted to go a la carte. From just reading the menus, you can see the span of influences on Peruvian cuisine, particularly from East Asia. In fact, my favourite of the ‘bites’, the otoro tuna nikkei, was reminiscent of Japanese cuisine. The tuna was incredibly soft, while the shiso tempura added variation of texture with its crunch; the dish was sweet, salty and refreshing all at the same time. Other bites we recommend to kickstart your meal are the ceviche taco, which uses the fresh catch of the day, and the creamy chicken croquettes, which again make use of two delightfully opposing textures.
When it comes to the mains, expect hearty dishes, well-sized portions, and impeccable flavour combinations. This is comfort food but elevated. Throughout the menu, LIMA strives to reinvent regional dishes with British ingredients and flair, and we were not disappointed – not by a long shot. The Secreto Iberico pork a la brasa was flavoursome and oh so tender (this is the juiciest cut of pork you can get), perfectly paired with Andean potatoes, drizzled in yellow chilli cream. Every mouthful had zest, spice and depth. If beef is more your thing, go for the slow cooked ribeye, served with salsa de seco and crushed, roasted plantain. I’d never tasted plantain served this way before: it was buttery, and almost mash-like; a great partner for the tender beef (which is very generous in size, just FYI).
The final course is dessert, and again, presentation and flavour is paramount. The caramelised plantain is literally a work of art. We’ll keep an air of mystery around this one, so you can be just as impressed as us when it arrives, but we will say it was a wonderfully sweet end to the meal.
A testament to the impressive fresh flavours and longevity of the LIMA experience, we got talking to a couple sat on the table next to us who had returned to the restaurant for a third time in recent years. Reminiscing on dishes crafted by the previous culinary director and comparing them to what lay before us now, there was only positive feedback to be heard from their first visit to their most recent. Later on, we even caught snippets of their conversation with the manager about football – just another sign how at home you feel at LIMA.
The drinks at LIMA
Following its 2022 transformation, a Pisco-based cocktail menu designed by a leading Peruvian mixologist awaits at LIMA. It would be a crime to visit and not try their signature Pisco Sour – and we noticed they were constantly coming out by the tray load! The drink goes down very well. Alternatively, the Pisco Campo, created using avocado, and a red onion and chilli cordial was my favourite. It was sweet and strong, but not a sipping cocktail at all: it is oh so smooth. You’ll definitely want to avo-nother one… You can also go for Gold, which gives Campari vibes (but personally, I feel it scored silver place to my Campo). An updated wine list has also been expertly curated to showcase even more South American and new world wines.
If you’re looking to try something new, this Peruvian paradise is the way to go. The warm hospitality and even warmer dishes will ensure you leave happy and full, and on the look out to return for your next big celebration.