Lima Floral launches The Lost Alpaca bar: South American cocktails in Covent Garden
Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez is one of South America’s most exciting and vibrant culinary talents. London is fortunate enough to be graced by two of his restaurants, with Floral the more casual answer to the Michelin-starred Lima. The Lost Alpaca is the latest addition to this family, a subterranean pisco bar in Covent Garden with a select spread of South American fare and inspired cocktails. Inside, the bar has a tropical mid-century modern interior (made with reclaimed wood), unassuming and intimate, with blue lights at its window sills that give you the sense that you’re in an upmarket reptile exhibition.
The drinks at The Lost Alpaca are far from the soft fuzziness of their logo. El Chapo, with Ron Cartavio Black rum, grapefruit, lime and agave, is spiced with aji amarillo chilis. It packs a small fireball in each sip, but gives way to a sweetness from the peppers that is complemented by the fruit. Other interesting notes include the tobacco liqueur in Amazonian Smoke and the activated charcoal in the Macario. There is an earthy depth to the drinks menu that lifts it from the sometimes garish sweetness that burdens cocktails, and it bears the mark of Martinez’s own subtle understanding of the Peruvian palate.
This taste-world runs through into the bar snacks at The Lost Alpaca. The real revelation here is the huancaína dip that is served with the beef empanadas and yuca fries. A traditional Peruvian classic, it is a spicy cheese sauce that has a sumptuous tang that will keep you dipping long after you’ve run out of chips. The Peruvian Fried Chicken, served with a potato, lime and lemongrass dip, is very comforting and crisp, but could perhaps be served with a little more finesse. Still, by the time that thought comes to its end, there will be little chicken left on your plate. The restaurant upstairs is also being reinvigorated by new head chef Patricia Roig, whose sharing menu is on hand if you find you’re more than peckish after a couple of drinks.
The bar, and the Lima family at large, is committed to its roots, and has partnered with Cool Earth, working alongside rainforest communities to battle climate change and deforestation. This clear sense of ethos is clearly important to Martinez, who continues to lead at the forefront of South American dining, with a maturity and breadth that has earned him his well-deserved acclaim.
★★★★★Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at The Lost Alpaca at Lima Floral, 14 Garrick St London WC2E 9BJ, call 020 7240 5778 or visit their website here.