There’s a reason why it’s in top 50 restaurants in the world. Especially top 10. Because it is downright amazing, that’s why.
Our reason for visiting Lima was so that we could stay overnight so we wouldnt miss our next flight out of Peru. Upon our journey through South America, it was bought to our attention that Lima was not just a stop over, it was a Gastronomy standout in South America with numerous restaurants featuring amongst the best in the world.
Whilst on a surf adventure in Northern Peru, we met a Spanish gent who worked in the mining industry and lived in the trendy Lima suburb of Barranco and discussed the dining options in Lima. Central was one of his recommendations, it turned out to be ranked the sixth best restaurant in the world. We did not have a booking and the last seating was at 1:30 pm, which was the time we arrived.
The restaurant pretty much had a welcoming committee, who thankfully advised that we were not too late to dine somewhere ons ite. The site housed two restaurants and a bar. One being the Vergilio Martìnez Véliz restaurant Central, the other a restaurant Kjoller created by his wife Pía and the bar called Mayo. We were politely advised the lunch was fully booked and opted for a seat at the bar to look at the menus of both Kjolle and Mayo. The cocktails on the drink menu sounded pretty inviting and whilst milling over what to eat, I thankfully decided on the ceviche at the bar. Thankfully because the Bass cevice, with clam, citrus juice roasted white onion chips happened to be best cevice we consumed on the whole trip. The cocktails were also amazing.
The ceviche had arrived, and the waiter had obviously heard our strong desire to eat at Central, and advised that there was a cancellation and there was the possibility of us dining in Central. He disappeared for a short moment and returned with news that the stars had aligned. There was a fair amount of luck involved, but that is how we walked into one of the worlds top restaurants without a booking. We highly appreciate the staff member going out of his way to help us!
We have already established the cocktails were good, the espresso martini was one of the better versions we have sipped on. They also had some cool beer on the menu, can’t say that I’d ever thought there would be a home brew on the menu at a fine dining restaurant. Anyway we don’t mind a beer, a pale ale is usually the beer of choice. The Blur home brew pale ale, was ordered. It had plenty of hop and a unique spice, a great pale ale.
The ethos of Central and chef Véliz is to display local ingredients, the biodiversity of Peru and put each of the microclimates on a plate. We have been fortunate enough to dine at a number of fine dining restaurants, including a few in the top restaurants list. Central is by far the best fine dining meal we have enjoyed to date. The 12 course dining menu was flawless. NOTE – there is a 17 course menu, but we only had time for the 12. This place amazingly reflecting Peru on a plate, with some out there and unusual ingredients and creative plating.
We outline the dishes below for your perusal:
1 A great start, the main ingredient was clam, the dish looked like little orange pillow sitting on a rock with flowers on top. This morsel exploded with citrus and clam once bitten into.
2 Contrasting textures of Catctus fruit, root veg crisps and the urchin roe with citrus mousse. The texture and flavour of the urchin roe and citrus mousse was sheer decadence.
3 Yellow mushrooms dish had a flavour that remined me of toast with butter. The black mushrooms were served on a sweet blackened cruton with pickled mushshroom, sour cream and chives, this dish had perfect balance of flavours and a great contrast to the yellow mushroom dish.
4 The duck leg tartar was nicely spiced served with a citric cream, the knife skills were very impressive, the duck carved into minuscule cubes. Using Jungle potato to make bread which was grey in colour and serve with a cacao butter with cacao and a butter made with 3 types of jungle tomatoe.
5 A refreshing dish of Pepino melon scallops, a creamy citrus ceviche, with mild melon flavour that had a nashi pear like texture. A great palate cleanser.
6 The oco tumbo, made with a legume cheese. This dish was a bean dish that was gnocchi like and server with tranparent crisps. The dish had a nice sweetness and earthy flavour.
7 Another light dish of avocado and river prawns that were very juicy and melt in your mouth, served with toasted black and orange corn, the savoury prawn broth providing a big hit of flavours.
8 The pirahna dish! This was the scariest and coolest plating we have come across. The crisp pirahna skin with juka, extravagantly plated atop of 5 pirahna heads. Eat or be eaten.
9 The Octopus had a sweet flavour and was very tender and served with sea lettuce that was prepared like kale chips
10 Slow cooked baby goat with olluco, which had a subtle caramel flavour, the goat amazingly tender. The goat flavour infused in to every item in the dish.
11, Mountain rain, choc clay, coca leaf granada and powder, gel, thick chocolate paste. As you can imagine this dessert nicely following on from the goat with rich, bold flavours and texture.
12 A palate cleanser that is a medicinal plant drink, containing algae from a high altitude lake. This was very refreshing and a great end to the meal.
This degustation is a perfectly orchestrated dining affair. Each dish compliments the next. This meal was a food journey through Peru in one sitting. Highly recommended if you are intending on visiting Lima. Make sure you book well in advance.