Lima London

When you take a seat in Lima, it doesn’t feel like you’re about to dine in a Michelin starred restaurant – it’s not the arty-farty, stuffy type. You’ll find this Peruvian dining spot on Rathbone Place in Fitzrovia, surrounded by pubs and casual pizza joints – so it’s not surprising that the vibe it extrudes is equally as relaxed. Without Conor grabbing my hand and pulling me in, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second glance.

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The restaurant itself is light and airy, complete with simple wooden tables and vibrant Peruvian artworks. There are a few seats available for al fresco dining, where we lounged in the sun and tried our best to decipher the menu. With 14 small plates and 12 large to choose from, as well as five ‘snacks’, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

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How I’ve never had a pisco sour is beyond me, pisco (a type of brandy) is mixed with egg whites, lime and sugar. Prepare to drink a few – and get the duck confit rocoto crisp to go with it. Rocoto is a type of a pepper which has been ground down into a paste and then dehydrated to turn it into a crisp, with a duck confit mousse on top. Hidden inside the confit are some delicious pomegranate seed surprises. It’s a total texture mash-up for your mouth, and it’s gone within seconds.

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The prawn and avocado ceviche is excellent – it’s like a circus cocktail with a chilli kick. Dig under the generous serving of plantain crisps and you’ll find fish which is tender and flavoursome, but the only problem was that the little bowl it was served in wasn’t nearly enough for Conor and me to share.

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Next up the came the Octopus Olivo, where seared octopus chunks come served on a bed of yellow quinoa, with lilac spots of alfonso olive mayonaise dotted around the plate. These little bubbles were incredibly tasty, but the octopus was a little too tough for my liking.

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Get the asparagus huancaina to cleanse your plate before moving onto their meat dishes. Stems of asparagus and cherry tomatoes are covered in a spicy, creamy sauce. We had the duck escabeche alongside it – which means the duck is basically is marinated in vinegar.  Thick, juicy, tender pieces of duck were served in a sweet syrup sauce with slices of radishes and bits of orange.

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Last up, my favourite dish of the evening, and a Lima signature – the beef tiradito. Thinly sliced raw beef pieces are presented in between swills of amarillo sauce, with flakes of parmesan and coriander cress sprinkled over the top. The beef melts in your mouth, I’d have seconds and thirds if my budget allowed me.

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It’s worth noting that they do a lunch and pre-theatre menu, so if you want to try unfamiliar flavours, with plates full of colours and ceviche, I’d book a table in to take full advantage of their deals.

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Lima London, 31 Rathbone Pl, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1JH

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Peruvian small plates at Chicama

The name of this Chelsea restaurant originates from a coastal town in Peru, which is fitting considering that the menu is completely centred on seafood. I first heard of Chicama whilst reading Time Out Magazine on the tube and I immediately wanted to visit. The name was added to my long list of places I want to eat in and ultimately forgotten about, until now.

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I rarely venture to Chelsea, I work in the City so it’s easy to pop to Shoreditch or Soho to meet pals or back up home, in North London. A few weeks ago I found myself in West London as I was headed to The Bletchley (a spy-themed cocktail bar), and needed somewhere quick to grab a bite.

The interior could have been lifted straight out of a Wes Anderson film and placed into Chelsea. A marble top bar divides the open kitchen and dining area with dusky pink velvet seating, illuminated by lamps which hang from the ceiling.

We were seated at the bar, overlooking the kitchen, and started the long process of trying to decide what to order…

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The idea is to order 2-4 dishes each and share, and I’d note that it’s not very cheap, but their food is a knockout. The flavours are fresh with bold Peruvian spices, marinades and sauces. From the selection of small plates, we ordered the salmon ceviche which was served with grapefruit and pickled onion. Potentially my favourite dish of the evening, the little cubes of fish were perfectly sized and was beautifully complemented by the citrusy spicy sauce it was served in.

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In a bid to get in some greens, we ordered the vegetable ceviche, half of the veg was served raw and the other half was cooked. My favourite element of the dish was the asparagus which was served battered.

There’s a selection of fish on offer which is done over the charcoal grill (and grilled seafood always takes me back to seaside dining with my family so I couldn’t resist). We opted for the sea bass, the quality of the fish was gorgeous and was cooked to perfection, as it flaked off fabulously off the bone. We also ordered a side of the avocado jalapeño sauce, which was so smooth and perfectly completed the fish.

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It’s a shame we didn’t have time to eat more as we were rushing to make it to The Bletchley on time. I’m dying to try the tapioca marshmallows (deep-fried fish cubes with parmesan)… so I guess I have to add Chicama back onto my list of places that I want to eat in.

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Chicama, 383 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 0LP

 

Monmouth Kitchen

Covert Garden is a hotbed for tourists, and most of the time it’s a no-go area for me as I’m someone who rolls her eyes when people stand on the wrong side of the escalator. But I was enticed to the area by Monmouth Kitchen, who were offering 50% off food during their soft launch. The restaurant is located in the heart of the Seven Dials and serves Italian and Peruvian-inspired small plates. I’ve never tasted Peruvian cuisine, so I was excited to see what was on offer.

It’s happened to all of us when we have had our hopes so high for a restaurant, just for them to be knocked down as soon as you walk through the door. Our table wasn’t ready when we arrived at 9pm, and Scott and I quickly exchange an eyebrow raise of ‘but it’s way past peak dining time, how are you not ready for us?’ – so were quickly seated in their bar area. The restaurant was very sleek everything was white or black and all the table tops were marbled. Once seated I ordered the only Rosé on the menu, and I was immediately disappointed, I found it too tart for my taste buds.

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We were taken over to our table in the main dinning room only to be greeted by a DJ, so the only way Scott and I could commute to each other or the service staff was by shouting at each other. Our waitress explained the menu perfectly to us and we order a range of bites and nibbles. In total we were served by a least 10 different people and I would so much prefer less people at the table.

Now eating here doesn’t come cheap and the portions are small. We ordered some of the chicken tacos and our waitresses warned us that they were mini, but they were the size of a 2p piece. All I could taste was spice which completely downed all of the other flavours – a real shame. The only bright side of the dish that they they weren’t a mess to eat like normal tacos.

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Our next dish was the mushroom and ricotta ravioli which was served with a sage butter. It was lovely, however we only had one raviolo each – I wouldn’t suggest ordering this dish if there’s more than two of you wanting to eat it.

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I love Pardon Peppers and I have them quite a lot at home as a simple starter, so I thought this dish was ridiculously over priced for what they offered. Unfortunately they were under-cooked and quite chewy.

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Next came the King Prawns, which were served butterflied with the shell on. I felt like it’s the type of place where people would judge you if you used your fingers instead of your knife and fork, so this dish just didn’t work for this restaurant.

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We were then brought the Chicken Lollipops, and so I had to use my fingers to eat these and I was past caring what my fellow diners thought of me. What annoyed me about this dish was that it wasn’t easy to spilt between two. Again, I thought this were overpriced for what is just flamboyant chicken wings.

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Our last dish was the Calamari – which they had completely forgotten about and had to remind twice to bring. Now, you can’t go wrong with deep fried food and this dish was pretty tasty and we were brought a decent portion size.

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We decided not to stick around for dessert as the food  we had so far was a not of good enough quality to charge the prices asked. The type of food served here is appropriate for a bar or standing dinner, but it’s just not right for a sit down dinner.

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Monmouth Kitchen, Radisson Blu Edwardian, Mercer Street, 20 Mercer St, London WC2H 9HD