Bar Review: Lima, BKC
While quaffing cachaca cocktails and noshing on flavourful ceviche at Lima, the city’s new Peruvian bar, you may get carried away and daydream about South America, like we did last Wednesday. In just a fortnight, the tapas lounge, in Bandra Kurla Complex, has garnered the attention of the city’s gastronomes on the prowl for new experiences. Lima offers a compelling glimpse of the cuisine of a continent that appears on many travel wish lists.
Atul Kochhar, the Indian chef who resides and works in London, is the unlikely ambassador for Peru in Mumbai. Lima is his second outing in the city, after NRI (Not Really Indian), which opened in BKC in January and offers the food of the Indian diaspora. The two establishments strategically share a wall in an office complex, so that Kochhar, who flies in every month, can conveniently attend to both.
Lima is the more transportive of the two, though not on account of the design which is compliant with the glass prison aesthetic of its surroundings. The 3,000 square feet room is part bar, painted in midnight blue and lit with chandeliers, and part dining lounge, which is contrastingly bleached and fitted with office waiting room furniture. Fans are suspended from the turf-lined ceiling in a flimsy attempt to evoke Peruvian villas of a certain vintage. On the night we visited, Lima was filled with suits from BKC and ladies who lunch and apparently venture out for dinners too, but both made a dull crowd.
Thankfully Shatbhi Basu, the bar in-charge, and the peppy reggaeton playlist added a bit of spunk. Veteran mixologist Basu, who heads the Stir Academy of Bartending in Mahim, engages bar flies with banter and crafty cocktails, many of which are off-menu preparations. We relished the unlisted passion fruit and chilli Pisco sour (Rs600), a mildly spiced and tart concoction fragrant with rosemary. The tall and cooling Michelada (Rs600), a traditional Mexican preparation, is like beery Bloody Mary rounded off with lime, as is a lot of Andean food. The spiced cocktail wasn’t as good as it could have been. This is because they’re making it with Kingfisher until their beer taps are installed.
The bar is still sorting out its supply of Pisco, the Peruvian grape-based white spirit, which tastes somewhat like Tequila. Taking advantage of their newly-arrived stock, we ordered the Pisco sour (Rs700), a frothy, lime-infused cocktail of heavenly strength. We could just as easily binge on the kumquat and basil caipirinha (Rs600), an moderately sweet, pucker-inducing tipple poured over a heap of crushed ice. Lima doesn’t serve dessert but their batida cremosa (Rs600) qualifies as one. The beverage tasted like 70 per cent cream, ten per cent passion fruit, ten per cent coconut and ten per cent cachaca.
The food menu focuses on small plates and is brief enough to cover in two visits. Devotees of Peru’s distinctively flavoured cuisine – it showcases ingredients from the Pacific Coast, the Andes and the Amazon – will attest that the food here is on point. The sea bass ceviche (Rs850) coloured with avocado, tomato and aji peppers is a fiesta in a bowl. The diced fish is marinaded in the invigorating leche de tigre or tiger’s milk, a broth of lime juice, chilli, salt, onion and pepper. The influence of China on Peruvian food, which has been transformed by global cuisines thanks to its vast immigrant population, is evident in the excellent mushroom ceviche (Rs750). It’s a meaty medley of shiitake, shimeji, oyster and enoki mushrooms soaking in a tangy ponzu stippled with black sesame seeds.
Lima serves first-rate tuna in the form of a tiradito (Rs1,250), the Peruvian take on sashimi. The slim slices of rosy tuna freckled with chia seeds, however, were marred by the slathering of Peruvian aji paste, a creamy yellow pepper condiment that tasted like mayonnaise. The health-minded can indulge guiltlessly here as Latin American superfoods like chia, quinoa and amaranth are splashed across the dishes. Compared to the rest of the bold, citrus-imbued fare, the palm of hearts salad (Rs600) made up of firm ivory-coloured palm hearts streaked with balsamic vinegar and garnished with crunchy amaranth soaked in orange reduction sauce, was wonderfully understated.
The chicken gochujang (Rs500), listed under grills, was tender and smoky like a chicken tikka rubbed with gochujang, the pungent Korean condiment that partners perfectly with most meats. The only other hot dish in our order were the tasty yucca chips (Rs225), a starchy root that’s considered to be a healthier alternative to potato. Dusted in a dry spice mix, the chips were more stubby wedges than crisp wafers, but still addictive.
While the exotic fare prompts flights of fantasy, the cheque is a crushing reminder that you’re still in Mumbai and considerably poorer after the meal – the average price of a dish is Rs750 before taxes, whereas at NRI the preparations rarely exceed the Rs600 mark. Lima may not look like it or demand a dress code, but it is a decidedly upscale bar in terms of pricing.
It is our policy to wait at least a week after an establishment has opened before we review it.
Prices exclude taxes. This review was conducted anonymously.
Lima, Maker Maxity, North Avenue 2, in the same complex as California Pizza Kitchen and Le Pain Quotidian, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Bandra (East). Tel: 022 3000 5040. Open daily, from 6pm to 12.30am. Get directions here.