Following the great success and Michelin adornment of his London mothership, Lima, Virgilio Martinez has opened a second restaurant in the capital, Lima Floral in Covent Garden. The new restaurant is more informal than Lima, boasting a piqueos bar serving tapas style dishes in the space downstairs and a keenly priced range of Peruvian fayre in the main dining area. The restaurant is encased in a former monastery and latterly, stained glass factory, replete with Victorian brickwork and colonnades. The interior has been gutted and restyled by B3 designers, who have also been responsible for the styling of Gymkhana and Bubbledogs.
The restaurant menu reads like a curt version of Lima’s, with starters at £7-10 focusing on ceviches and tiraditos; mains of £18-24 are mostly meat and potato based, with the addition of an interesting sounding warm sea bream ceviche. The one difference from the menu at Lima is the introduction of some more unusual Andean ingredients – pachamanca, camote, anticucho and annatto all feature……..probably best to ask your waiter what these are. We dined in the piqueos bar downstairs – the headline on the menu states that it is ideal for pre-theatre dining and the eighteen dishes on offer are all small and designed for sharing. In addition to the now familiar ceviches and tiraditos, they offer some more filling meat and fish dishes (anticuchos) as well as “tostadas” which are an Andean slant on spanish tostadas – each dish sits on top of a crunchy cornflour tortilla which can then be used to shovel the food into your mouth.
We started with a tuna tiradito which utilised fantastically meaty tuna which had been sliced thinly and placed on dollops of tomato and chilli infused tiger’s milk – simple, clean and effortlessly tasty food.
We followed with another tuna dish, a tuna causa – a tuna tartare served with Andean blue potato, avocado and amazonian cashew. Strangely, the tuna played second fiddle to the wonderful potato, which was a deep purple colour and had a deep earthy flavour with a slightly sweet, treacle-like finish.
The quality of their ceviche is a true test of the quality of a Peruvian restaurant – both of our ceviche dishes at Lima Floral were exemplary: salmon with limo chilli pepper achieved the perfect combination of fatty fish and citrusy tiger’s milk; scallops with tree tomatoes allowed the almost sweet, succulent scallops to speak clearly.
We finished with each of the four tostadas – two were successful, two less so; the less successful dishes were the sea scallops and octopus in which the seafood had been chopped finely and enveloped in (I think) cream cheese which severely dulled their flavour. However, the asparagus, avocado and onion ashes was wonderful – fresh, light ingredients treated without fuss. Finally, lightly cooked veal heart was served with quinoa – the meat melted in the mouth, crunch and texture was provided by the quinoa. A well conceived, filling dish, and at £5.50 just about the best value on the menu.
We attended the soft launch so our bill was very reasonable – the Pisco Sours were on the house, and there was 50% off our food bill; at full price I think that Lima Floral would be expensive, although it offers better quality food than most of its neighbours in Covent Garden.
Verdict: well-cooked and beautifully presented food, just a tad over priced 7.5/10