Restaurant review: Lima Fitzrovia, London


I’m not the biggest fan of surprises. My hyper-organised, control-freak self doesn’t exactly warm to the idea of giving someone else all the control. So instead of eager anticipation, and butterflies, there is just fear.

But when, recently, I was bluntly told, “I’m taking you out to dinner.” I was taken aback by the simple fact that a) I didn’t care where this dinner was, and more importantly, b) I was relishing that someone else was taking charge (for a change) and I was being told what to do.

That dinner was last night. And I’m afraid I was taken to a restaurant so delicious, so mouth-wateringly extraordinary, that my urge to bore anyone who will listen, outdoes any sympathy I may or may not have for the bemused victims.

Meeting outside Tottenham Court Road station, there was a joke or two about grabbing a happy meal from the McDonald’s across the road. But alas, the restaurant which has turned me into a preaching caricature is not McDonald’s but the contemporary Peruvian Lima.

I know what you’re thinking. Peruvian food? Doesn’t that just consist of fried guinea pig? Not exactly for the faint hearted!

But Lima Fitzrovia is a Michelin star restaurant – the first and only Peruvian restaurant to achieve this (my date boasted) – so there was no roasted guinea pig on the menu.


Situated opposite one of my favourite spots for coffee, Tap No.26, on Rathbone Place, the outside suggests a somewhat understated, low-key venue.

However, Lima is considerably bigger than the outside originally suggests. While the room is small, there is a gigantic skylight which dramatically reduces any sense of claustrophobia. Plus, there are huge mirrors slanted on each wall which reflect light in every direction (they also come in handy for subtly checking and smoothing away any stray strands of frizzy hair due to the miserable wet weather!)

When we arrived the room was only half-full, but it had this contagious buzz as couples gossiped and laughed, which made me feel immediately at ease. The menu was loaded with alarmingly unfamiliar ingredients; plantain majado, anyone? ají limo? fava beans? I felt like I needed my huge OED to understand exactly what to choose. Yet I needn’t have panicked as the young South American who served us had expansive knowledge as to each item listed.

Every dish presented dramatic colours with precise, vibrant flavours. From braised octopus with purple corn and botija olive to sea bass with avocado, yellow tiger´s milk and cancha corn – the starters did not disappoint. But best of all was the beef pachanca (let the gushing begin) – intense, subtle, delicious. Four fat chunks of gorgeous medium rare beef with a blackened, peppery crust, sitting in between blobs of velvety neon yellow mashed potato ‘purée’, topped with cow’s milk, black quinoa and ají Panca. I was in heaven!

As we sipped the end of a crisp Chilean sauvignon blanc, I basked in what was undoubtedly a perfect meal. And the company wasn’t too bad either!

So next time someone wants to spoil you, to celebrate a birthday, a promotion, an anniversary, or take you out to dinner just because they can – Lima should be at the very top of your list!

Lima, 31 Rathbone Place, London W1T 1JH, 020 3002 2640.

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