In central London, you're never far from good food. It's true - we Londoners are so spoiled as a result. Step away from the tourist hordes frequenting the McDonalds and Prets that plague the high street and you'll often be able to find a little joint to tempt your belly (and empty your wallet). Case in point: the Fitzrovia branch of Lima, a mere hop, skip and a jump away from the hubbub of Tottenham Court Road, a.k.a. the Eighth Circle of Hell.
We chose Lima to mark my dad's birthday. Why? Well, firstly, our family has a penchant for Peruvian food, and secondly, the name is wickedly close to my father's own name (A. Lim, or Lim, A). And it was such a lovely little place - smaller than I'd imagined but intimate as a result, with dishes sparkling with flavour that begged to be shared.
Pisco-based drinks to kick proceedings off: the Maracuya, made up of passion fruit, ginger ale, lime and bitters.
For me: a Chilcanito, a Luna Basil-infused pisco with ginger liqueur, lime and Victorian lemonade. This tasted like the love child of a lemon meringue pie and a cocktail. Devilishly drinkable.
Bouches were amused with this quinoa-based complimentary starter.
Other starters included this sea bream ceviche, which swam in tiger's milk and tasted sweet, perfectly fresh and almost meaty. Top marks.
The Artichoke Amazonia was probably one of the most innovative and beautiful vegetable/fruit dishes I've ever had. Delicately flavoured red potato with almost Oriental fan-like radish slices, avocado puree and passion fruit.
Octopus Olivo: braised octopus with a satisfyingly meaty bite, with organic white quinoa and botija olive puree. I thought the presentation was wonderfully creative for this plate - don't the dots of olive puree resemble the suckers on a tentacle?
We also ordered hand-dived scallops with yellow aji pepper, muña mint and corn (top right). I felt these were beautifully thin and textured, but had very little flavour. We decided (and foodies and chefs may laugh or turn up their noses at us for this) that they went far better with the tiger milk from the ceviche dish.
For mains: Paiche Amazonian fish with seaweed brown butter, annato, white kiwicha and cacao Amazonia. This dish was absolutely bursting with flavours.
Beef pachamanca on wild black quinoa, with cusco corn, cow's milk and aji panca juice. The beef was cooked perfectly and the cute cornbread accompanying the meat topped with cheese incredibly moreish.
And the star: suckling pig with giant corn, piquillo pepper and green rocoto. Far and away the standout dish for me. The pressed meat was unctuous with the most addictive, crispy crackling, and the bed of corn and rocoto was amazingly sticky and flavourful. I could have had this three times over quite happily.
And finally, dessert: chirimoya mousse with crispy meringues and cacao palo blanco. The mousse was more of a semifreddo and beautifully light. I was biased towards this one from the beginning as a fan of chirimoya, or custard apple. A lovely, playful way to end the meal.
Lima is a lovely, welcoming place with excellent food to boot - it's easy to see why it has a (very well-deserved) Michelin star. I for one would be delighted to come back to reacquaint myself with that dreamy suckling pig. Gracias y hasta la próxima, Lima!