On 1 March, the world-famous food hall at Harrod’s department store in Knightsbridge, London, will open a new stand named ‘Lima’; an offshoot of the successful Lima Floral and Lima Fitzrovia restaurants.
It aims to offer a ‘simplified, grab-and-go’ version of what is served in its sister restaurants, marking a change of direction from their fine dining model – “adapted to retail format”.
The venture is the brainchild of brothers Gabriel and José Luiz González, owners of the ‘Lima’ franchise, who have said that they intend to take “the offering we have into a mass market format”, Big Hospitality reports, by launching a series of ‘Lima-Deli’ shops.
The brothers were quick to point out that the characteristic of their two London restaurants was the “personal touch” their diners enjoy, and maintaining this in their Harrod’s enterprise would be their greatest challenge.
“There will be a much shorter contact time with our team,” said Gabriel González, “we try to give an experience where the staff can explain where the ingredients come from and the inspiration behind the dishes.”
Within Latin America, Peruvian food is something of a shining light. Lima co-owner Virgilio Martínez’s Central restaurant in the Peruvian capital was named the fourth best in the world in 2015, while head chef Diego Muñoz’s Astrid y Gastón restaurant’s well-earned notoriety is recognized in fourteenth place on the list. Maido, another Lima restaurant that serves Japanese-Peruvian fusion dishes, also made the top 50.
The popularity of Peruvian food outside of the region is following a steady upward trajectory. Having opened their first London restaurant in Fitzrovia with Martínez in 2012, the González brothers saw their new premises awarded a Michelin star within a year of opening. Lima Floral soon followed in 2014 and the chain is set to expand yet further in 2016, as a Dubai branch has been announced to open this spring.
Latin American cuisine has often found itself unfairly consigned to the fast food scrap heap. ‘Mexican’ food has been thrust forcefully upon unsuspecting diners the world over – most notably by franchises such as Taco Bell. However, with this 21st century Peruvian incarnation, Latin American food appears to be on the cusp of a new era.
Although the Lima success story is one of London’s worst-kept secrets, it could conceivably position itself at the vanguard of an exciting future for Latin American cuisine.
If the Harrod’s food hall experiment is a success, then the product of the González brothers’ creativity – a series of deli-style stores across London – could bridge the gap between fine-dining and fast food. It is a lucrative void into which Latin America’s food has thus far failed to make an impression, yet the team behind Lima could well be the ones to get the word out once and for all. It could be a big year for Peru’s infamous culinary generation.