If you’re a fan of Peruvian food, chances are you’ve heard of LIMA, the restaurant that slings out Michelin-starred South American fare from its Fitzrovia outpost. But have you visited its sister site, Floral by LIMA in Covent Garden? While it doesn’t come with the coveted accreditation, it similarly dishes up a contemporary spin on Peruvian fare. I obviously had to go and find out what all the fuss was about.
Located smack bang in the centre of London, on a Friday night no less, the restaurant already had a lively buzz when we arrived. It was undeniably chic, with young creative types gathered around tables chatting over nibbles and drinks, surrounded by luscious plants and a stunning mural that overtook the entire back wall. I adored the large windows, which not only brought in lots of lovely light, but also provided a charming view of the pretty cobbled streets outside.
Despite the eye-catching interiors, our evening felt slightly disrupted due to the loud bashing of instruments downstairs at the restaurant's basement bar, The Lost Alpaca. It appears we were sat directly over the live band, the sound of which did not travel well; our table vibrated and our conversation became subdued over the boisterous rumble (although in all fairness, when I peeked my head around the door of the bar, it then sounded pretty amazing).
Despite this, we kicked off the evening with a couple of cocktails, which of course had to be pisco sours, made up of pisco, lime, sugar syrup and egg white. My dinner date went for the classic (£12), a subtle, delicate take on the tipple, while I ordered a passionfruit-flavoured one (£13). This offered a delightful, tangy burst with each frothy sip.
It’s near impossible for me not to order ceviche if I see it on the menu, and the sea bream (£14) variation went down a hit. It came swimming in a pool of tangy tiger’s milk, accompanied by crispy Cuzco corn, chillis and onion, garnished with a bit of greenery. We also delved into the wok beef tacos (£13), where soft, succulent pulled beef came cradled in two soft on the inside, crispy on the outside tortillas, with a few generous pipes of guacamole and sauteed red onions to seal the deal.
After knocking back even more pisco sours, we then dived into our mains. We shared the seafood frittura (£26) – fish, octopus and prawns, all fried to perfection so that the meat was still so light and succulent. It came paired with a delightful crunch from the plantain crisps, accompanied by a range of rich sauces that complimented each bite. Alongside this, we tucked into the ollucos causa (£21); unfortunately, this was a rather bland dish, with nothing particularly special about it - basically just chopped mushrooms and tomato stew on top of mashed potatoes or cassava. On the side, we had chaufa rice (£6), a delicious, Peruvian spin on stir-fried rice and broccoli (£5), which was actually absolutely delicious, doused in chilli and soy sauce.
Although we were let down by one of the mains, boy did the desserts make up for it. The chocolate mousse (£8) was, I’m not joking, one of the most incredible sweet treats I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting my mitts around. It was rich, with hints of honeycomb and coffee, served alongside a little alfajor. And the passionfruit pannacotta (£7)? Not only had it been beautifully presented and garnished with edible flowers, but it was also a flavour explosion of fruity flavours.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Considering the hype around this restaurant, and its affiliation with its Michelin-starred counterpart, I expected a little more from Floral by LIMA. It was incredibly loud from the music downstairs, which meant we couldn't really hold a conversation, and the food was a little hit-and-miss. However, I'd definitely be up for giving it another go, although I think next time I would order from the sharing plates menu rather than the mains, as those dishes look a little more up my street.
💰 The damage: £151 plus service charge.
📍 The location: 14 Garrick Street, London, WC2E 9BJ.
👌 Perfect for: Hanging out with friends and casual date nights.
⭐ Need to know: You can visit the basement bar for a cocktail afterwards.