Lima – a little bit of Peruvian service in London

It wouldn’t be the obvious choice for an evening out. But Lima is a little gem of a place, tucked away in Rathbone Place just at the lower end of its more famous sister, Charlotte Street. It didn’t seem to have been open that long when we went there and the restaurant and staff had that fresh feel that many places lose once the operation becomes better known and more established.

Lima - Rathbone Place
Lima – Rathbone Place

The food is unusual in composition, probably because not many of us are accustomed to Peruvian cuisine, but very original and beautifully presented. Not a guinea pig in sight. Try the pisco sours as a cocktail to go with your starter, the Clasico is excellent and very original. The Sea Bream Ceviche was fresh and vibrant with the spicy flavours bursting through. So often ceviche disappoints because the fish is not fresh and the flavours don’t work in counterpoint to the fish. This was just right.

The Beef Pachamanca ended up being Lamb but that didn’t really matter. A very small but perfectly cooked piece of meat. It is at this point that you realize that in fact there’s nothing especially unusual about Peruvian cooking, it’s all in the presentation and the slightly unusual combinations.

There’s a front and rear section to the restaurant, separated by an open kitchen where you can observe everything that’s going on. This is a common approach in modern restaurants and I have to say that I like it. The front restaurant is a nice place to sit by the window and watch the world go by. The wine list has sensible prices for London and a reasonable choice. You can also order many of the wines in 500ml quantity or by the glass.

So, what’s the problem with the Peruvian service? Well, I’ll tell you what the problem is. Having booked a table for six thirty, just as we were settling down to finish our wine at five to nine, the waitress casually strolled over to our table and with no prior warning told us that she wanted the table back for a booking at nine. And that was after spending two hundred pounds for the two of us. On principle I never accept a restaurant reservation where there is a time limit as I think it’s disgraceful behaviour on the part of the owners. You pay, so you should be able to stay as long as you want. We paid and we left. So, sorry Lima, but we won’t be coming back again.

Business seat survival kit

BA Business survival kitThis varies slightly from the Economy survival kit.

Essentially the line of vodka miniatures required to completely anaesthetise yourself from the physical hell of being so close to the person next to you, so close that you can smell them, can be replaced by a more soothing glass of something else. The iPod and reading material are still required – the TV usually doesn’t work properly and more often than not the cabin crew can’t be bothered to walk around the end of the seat to serve you, constantly lowering the dividing screen and forgetting to put it back up again when they’ve finished.

It’s never been clear to me why they came up with the facing seat configuration in BA Business, where you stare into the face of a complete stranger sitting in the adjacent seat. Clearly it wasn’t anyone who ever actually uses an aircraft. Or maybe it was … just someone taking revenge on the business traveller.