Early morning is the best time of day in central London. Time it perfectly (post-suit stampede, pre-tourist crush), and Covent Garden is an oasis of quiet activity as traders set up for the day ahead. If you find yourself in town at this golden hour, our advice is to avoid the chains and head to Lima Floral for a Peruvian-style breakfast.
Sister restaurant to Virgilio Martinez’s first London restaurant, the now Michelin-starred Lima in Fitzrovia, Lima Floral is a more relaxed version with a much more affordable price tag. Weekend brunch here is nothing new, but breakfast, served from 8.30-10.30am daily is a welcome addition, with a menu that covers everything from a cold buffet of continental favourites such as fruit and pastries, to familiar European dishes given a playful Peruvian twist (you’re going to have to wait until brunch for ceviche, I’m afraid).
If you’re feeling virtuous, head chef Robert Ortiz has created Andean cereal ‘porridge’ made with toasted quinoa, kiwicha and kañwa, with almond milk and served with chancaca syrup – a typical Peruvian sauce made from unrefined sugar. For something more familiar, there is good old Scottish oat porridge given a twist with physallis caramelised with yet more chancaca.
The savoury options are the stand-outs, though, with dishes including eggs frittata served with yellow chilli and goat’s cheese, and scrambled eggs with sour cream and salmon tartare – a teaser of the ceviche you’ll find on the main menus. Must-orders are the croquet señor; toasted brioche (crisp outside, pillowy-soft inside), ham, gruyère with a beer béchamel and spicy huancaina (creamy cheese) sauce, and Peruvian breakfast club sandwich; a deeply satisfying stack of toasted chilli bread filled with chicken and slow-cooked suckling pig.
The room itself is drenched in light with bare wooden tables, petrol blue accents and traditional Peruvian art on the walls, and has managed to find that balance between casual and classy, making it the perfect place for everything from a quick bite with friends to a working breakfast. The enviable location and interesting, well-executed menu make Lima Floral a great addition to the London breakfast scene – get there before the crowds.
Lima Floral, 14 Garrick Street, Covent Garden, WC2