Most of us are creatures of habit and as such the restaurants we return to, tend to be tried and trued haunts. But if, like Haute Time, you’re in the mood to expand your culinary horizons, leave Le Caprice, J Sheekey et al to the capital’s first timers and look to Peruvian restaurant LIMA Floral – the second London restaurant from Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez and his partners, Gabriel and Jose Luis Gonzalez.
Situated in Covent Garden on the corner of Garrick Street and Floral Street, within a historic building which was originally built as a monastery, LIMA Floral’s main restaurant – much like its Michelin starred Fitzrovia sibling – offers traditional and contemporary Peruvian cuisine including Scallops with chia ceviche, Amazonian fish with warm causa and kholrabi and quinoa tiradito.
But if you can’t secure a table in the restaurant (it tends to be as busy as a bookies on Grand National Day), head downstairs to the buzzy basement bar. Trust Haute Time: you won’t regret doing so. For while the restaurant may ooze elegance, the downstairs bar and drinking den is quite simply so much more fun!
Grab a table by the window and prepare to peruse the piqueos menu. Perplexed as to what piqueos is? Piqueos, explains Martinez, is “essentially a bar serving tapas dishes which is very traditional in Peru.”
We were wowed by both the Tuna and rocoto tiger’s milk tiradito and the Sea bream, Rocoto chili pepper, uchutat and wild sorrel causa – addiction on a plate. But it was the Ceviches that shone the brightest – especially the Sea bream ceviches (tender chunks of fish in more’ish tiger milk).
The meaty anticuchos were flavoursome too while, unusually for a South American eaterie, vegetarians are acknowledged. Haute Time’s herbivore dining companion salivated over her Asparagus, avocado uchuta and onion ashes tostada and Aubergine, green and rocoto tiger’s milk with Andean corn.
On the drinks front, the menu boasts a long list of tipples for the discerning drinker to choose from but cocktails are undoubtedly the specialty. Being in a Peruvian venue you really should sink a Pisco Sour (Peru’s signature drink consisting of pisco, lime, sugar, egg white and Angostura bitter) – or three. But if you’re not passionate about Pisco Sours (maybe you’re from Mars or something), try the Sandia – summer in a glass.
Factor in the stylish interior with its strong native influences throughout – the brainchild of B3 designers – the charismatic and exceptionally friendly staff (who seemed as happy to be there as we were) and the thrilling atmosphere and you have a place that is pure Peruvian magic. Make no mistake: Martinez has another huge hit on his hands.