Peruvian superchef Virgilio Martinez doesn’t do things by halves. A few months ago he decided to extend his reach by opening two restaurants simultaneously on opposite sides of the world. Quite a risk, but one that seems to have come off. I’ve just heard that Senzo, his new dining concept in Cuzco, is humming, and Lima, in London’s Rathbone Place, has just been named the city’s number one Latin American restaurant.
So here at Lima (London) it’s pisco sours all round. If you ever spot this Peruvian grape liqueur cocktail on the drinks list, order without delay. A bubbling cloud of frothed-up egg whites, it’s devilish to make yourself but explosive in the mouth. We nobly restricted ourselves to just one before moving on to the excellent (but, sadly, largely European) wine list.
The laid-back atmosphere and perfectly-pitched service from two Chilean waiters meant that we were well primed for the food. Suddenly it was full-on fireworks when a black plate with a white dais of quinoa appeared. Arranged on top was meltingly soft octopus and to its side artistic dots of olive mousse. Eat your heart out Damien Hirst.
Other great tastes were a crispy confit of suckling pig with lentils, braised lamb in a rich, dark pisco and coriander sauce and a chocolate dessert with topped with shavings of blue potato.
We sat around, relaxed and chatting, until the restaurant emptied. But then it turned out that down in the basement, by the bar, the place was still packed and partying. So that’s been earmarked for visit number two, and perhaps two pisco sours to match.