Everything’s Coming Up Roses At LIMA Floral, Covent Garden

12th November 2017

LIMA Floral is sister to Michelin starred restaurant LIMA in Fitzrovia, yet it’s by no means outshone by its older and flashier sibling. Located just off Garrick Street, at the heart of Covent Garden’s throbbing core, it consciously playful with arty, eccentric interiors. The upstairs dining room is intimate and well lit, bright enough to see, but still sultry and seductive as a South American restaurant should be with a colourful cubist mural and vibrant blue walls reminiscent of Frida Kahlo’s ‘Casa Azul’ (blue house). Entering from the deepening grey of a winter’s night in London, it’s dazzling and invigorating. There’s something almost mischievous about the place.

We begin with pisco sours – the restaurant’s signature cocktail – and yuca chips served with a huancaina and ricotta cheese sauce. With a basement bar, LIMA floral has a well earned reputation for killer cocktails and the pisco sour is no exception, whilst the innovative twist on the traditional Peruvian huancaina sauce is light and rich in equal measure. The menu is divided up into courses and sub-divided in categories such as causas (potato based dishes), ceviches and Andean/Pacific/Amazon for the starters and Tierra (land) or Mar (sea) for the mains. Whilst on most menus, your eyes focus in on a particular dish, all of the Virgilio Martinez and Robert Ortiz’s creations sound equally mouth-watering and intriguing.

After a few minutes of deliberation, our waiter takes pity on us and offers some suggestions. The Jalea del Mar (deep fried king prawn and squid, served with corn and aioli) is his favourite he tells us and the ocean selection of seabream, tuna and octopus marinated in traditional tiger’s milk is the most authentically Peruvian ceviche. ‘But don’t worry, tiger’s milk, isn’t actually from a tiger,’ he assures us, ‘it’s the Peruvian marinade for ceviche made with lime juice, sliced onion, chillies.’ According to old folklore, we discover later, leche de tigre qualifies as an aphrodisiac and is often drunk by Peruvians in glasses after they finish the fish. We don’t take it quite that far, but we do mop up as much of the flavoursome liquid as we can with cubes of home-baked quinoa bread. The marinated seafood is delightfully tender and the generous tower of crispy squid and king prawns is some of the best we’ve tasted. We devour it all with barely a breath in-between.

For the mains, we stick with the sea theme, opting for the tuna sakura maru, with roasted vegetables and citrus brown butter sauce and king prawns – our waiter's so excited when we order it that we know we’re onto something good. He’s right again. The tuna is deliciously delicate, and the prawn dish sublime: grilled, shelled whole prawns served in a rich, dark garlic sauce with thick cusco corn cakes. It’s intensely indulgent and sets us in very pleasurable kind of food coma. Partly due to fullness and partly because we want to preserve the flavour of the king prawn sauce, we turn down the desert menu, making a mental note to return for the cacao chocolate mousse and the alfajores (traditional Peruvian short-bread biscuits filled with dulce de leche) plus all the other dishes we haven’t tried. It’s an easy favourite and a more characterful choice for a pre-theatre dinner.
For more information on LIMA Floral, see here.
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