Food review: Lima Floral, Covent Garden
Lima Floral has been open 12 days when I visit and it's awkward. We have to climb up to a reception lectern that dominates an over-large embarkation area. Staff busily flit in and out, brittle worker bees.
Only a few tables are visible to the right in a space lit by Tron-like triangles that clash with the older bones of the building and spill cold light over diners.
Other eating areas are tucked away, as is the kitchen. Both are more dimly lit and are filled with the gentle clink of cutlery and conversation.
Unfortunately the girl in the red shoes and I are seated beneath the window under the pallid lights.
Our waiter has a star tattooed on his neck and a lined face filled with mirth and mischief. He's a delight.
We receive our menus and read. She smiles, then looks up: "I'm going to have to ask a lot of questions before I know what to order."
I'm glad. I've no idea what uchucuta, cancha and escabeche signify either.
As for "tiger's milk", which appears multiple times in varying colours, we muse on the extraction process. A gentle tug to avoid the swipe of a disgruntled paw?
The tattooed man helps us out and selections are made.
Sea bream ceviche (£10) is a powerful opener. An explosive rush of tastes, spice, sourness. It's perfectly textured.
But my main of beef sudado (£24) while wholesome is chewy, monotonous and overpriced.
Thankfully desserts of chocolate and chirimoya mousse (both £6) sweeten the blow of my lacklustre main, the former a riot of south American soul.
I love the original Lima in Fitzrovia. I'm sure lots of words like evolution and development were used when birthing its sister, but the reality is one of dilution not progress.
The flavours don't quite carry this one.
Lima Floral, 14 Garrick Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9BJ, 020 7240 5778, limafloral.com.