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Friday, 16 January 2015

Lima Floral, Covent Garden

My list of famous Peruvian exports is short. There's my childhood chum Paddington; my mate Deborah's ex-lodger, a snapper called Mario (who could now buy up all of Peru, never mind afford a London pad of his own) and operatic loungecore diva Yma Sumac (who some argue was born Amy Camus in Brooklyn and, so, doesn't qualify). Them, and pisco. Distilled from grapes, Peru's brandy-like national spirit has become increasingly popular in London's bars, as fickle trend-chasers trade mojitos and caipirinhas ("too TOWIE for words, hon") for pisco sours. The classic lime-laced recipe (£8.50) is present and correct in this new Peruvian restaurant's buzzy dark cellar bar, run - somewhat implausibly - by a jolly brave, jolly Estonian couple who had never ventured much beyond Tallinn before taking on the gig, they tell me. Other ideas tend towards the sweet and fruity: an orange and lemon-infused pisco, watermelon and apple Collins and Casi Peruano, a perfectly doable pisco slant on a negroni. The only drinks downer is when Mr Tallinn commends me his finest chilli pepper-infused pisco and strawberry martini (pictured). If my name was Chelseigh (20, nail technician from Charlton) and I was handed one to get me in the mood to splash out on a puce Rabbit, crotchless panties and nipple tassels at my first ever Ann Summers-at-home party, I'd probably rate this syrupy, cloying chilli horn-garnished sinner "lush." To my taste, it is more Lush as in high street purveyors of not-dope soap. Noticing I've left it left untouched, a dried-down, better, version presently appears. “Pisco" translates as “little bird”: bird-like appetites will make do with just one dish from a selection of muckle piqueos - Peru’s answer to tapas  Escabeche of paiche (an Amazon freshwater fish); zingy, fresh and flavoursome tuna and ginger ceviche in tiger’s milk, and anticucho - velvety, tender rare beef loin with chilli and corn puree (£10) - are hits. Roasted baby aubergine with cashew, cheese, coriander and cress might look pretty on the plate but, en la boca, suggests being a veggie may not be much fun in Lima, old bean. 
14 Garrick Street WC2E 9BJ 7240 5778 

adapted from my review for