Lima Central restaurant, a dinner to remember

Restaurant Central Lima. Have you heard of it? if you are here on this article probably yes 🙂 but in any case do not worry because in this post I will take you by the hand and talk about one of the most interesting restaurants in South America. Yes, that’s correct, the all South America.

It had been a long time since I had the desire to try the experience of a restaurant on the world’s 50 best restaurants list. And this is not because I’m a particularly demanding or even only a good fork, but because the stories told by Chef table, a hit Netflix show, had particularly impressed me.

In these stories, the kitchen, and the food, were at the center, but all around it there is also a world made of errors, oversights, falls, inventions, ideas, tradition, creativity and innovation, which to define complex and fascinating would be definitely not enough.

In short, I had a damned desire to be, at least for a few minutes, inside those stories, to try firsthand the things the show is talking about.

After skipping the tour to Bangkok and Hong Kong (and losing my reservation for another notable restaurant), finally this September ’21 I was able to leave again for an intercontinental trip, and having as my destination Peru and particularly Lima (here is the post on what to see in Lima) I told myself that Central, the Virgilio Martinez’s / Pia Leon restaurant protagonist of episode 6 of the third season of Chef Table, would have been a perfect gift.

Yes, I would have celebrated my birthday by giving myself dinner at Virgilio’s restaurant.

Restaurant Central Lima, Head chef Virgilio Martinez and Chef de cuisine Pia Leon

Between saying and doing, however, there is the difficulty of booking in a restaurant repeatedly recognized as the best in South America (and currently still at number 1 in South America and number 4 in the world (parenthesis in parenthesis, I know that the rankings are stupid but behind all the restaurants on the 50 best list there is a story, a long and complex story. Yes, I know that there is a story behind other restaurants too, however, in short, let’s not get bogged down here ok?)).

Restaurant Central Lima, the entrance
Restaurant Central Lima, the entrance

In this sense, that is in the sense of booking this restaurant in case you are lost, COVID has been my friend.

Surprisingly it was not difficult to find a table for one on a quiet Tuesday evening in September. Even the choice of the menu, to be indicated at the time of booking, did not bring any particular doubts: “territorio en desnivel” combined with a series of juices (the wine, of which Peru is also a producer in a small part, would certainly have been an interesting pairing but I have never been a true wine lover).

The culinary scene of Lima

I don’t remember if we have already talked about it in the post about what to see in Lima but the culinary scene of Lima is undoubtedly one of the most interesting in the South American panorama. In fact, Peruvian cuisine has a fusion of Asian (especially Chinese), Spanish, and French culinary traditions, and even some hints of the Italian spirit. Then you must take into account the great variety of environments that characterizes Peru, where you go from the sea to the mountains, from the desert to the jungle, in a few tens of kilometers.

To reflect this interesting diversity and mixture we can say that in the first 4 places of the 50 best South America list there are in fact 3 Lima restaurants: Central precisely, Maido, and Astrid y Gaston (perhaps it indicates that the mixture, as opposed to purity, brings excellent results).

Central Lima restaurant, the menu

Finally, we come to what really matters, which is food. I must necessarily make a premise. I am nowhere near a food critic and I admit that the refined research and in-depth study, behind Central’s dishes are not easy to understand even for Peruvians, who at least have some knowledge of some of the ingredients used, let alone me that I know little or nothing.

menu Central
Restaurant Central Lima, menu Territorio en Desnivel

That said, the Central experience was fantastic. The menu has 11 small courses that accompanied me from under the sea to the 2700m of Valle Sagrado (the sacred Inca valley near Cusco) and kept me busy for about two hours. The food itself is clearly excellent, although as mentioned I am not a food critic capable of appreciating the subtle differences between the various types of potatoes or herbs used, and the service is, as it should be in these places, super attentive and very kind.

Restaurant Central Lima. Let's start from the end, the dessert. An excellent ice cream by the way
Restaurant Central Lima. Let’s start from the end, the dessert. Excellent ice cream by the way
Restaurant Central Lima. This was the course dedicated to tubers, with the many varieties of potatoes that can be found in Peru cooked in a small clay container, according to the Andean tradition.
Restaurant Central Lima. This was the course dedicated to tubers, with the many varieties of potatoes that can be found in Peru cooked in a small clay container, according to the Andean tradition.

The combination with juices, in itself super interesting in theory, does not seem to have added much and today perhaps I would rethink my non-alcoholic choice but in hindsight we are always right you know.

central succhi
Restaurant Central Lima, the juices selection

My personal experience in Central

Seeing Virgilio Martinez wandering around the tables and chatting with customers, enjoying refined but never overly complicated dishes, and being able to appreciate an evening in a really nice and relaxing place was undoubtedly a beautiful gift that I gave myself.

In this sense I would like to recommend the experience to all curious people, to all those who want to see what lies behind the scenes of a high-level restaurant, where every dish is certainly thought with the head but also, above all, with the heart. In addition to this, we must then add all the work behind Central, in particular with Mater Iniciativa of Virgilio Martinez’s sister, also active in the protection of the Peruvian ecosystem.

central lima sala interna
Restaurant central Lima, one of the 2 rooms open that Tuesday

For the more curious I’ll get there now. Where? to the prices! I don’t think it’s very important in these cases but I know that some of you want to know. The price of my menu was around 95 euros, to which about twenty had to be added for the combination with juices (and a tip which in Peru is generally around 10%).

I guess you can see that the article on the restaurant Central Lima is finished. If you want to read something else I give you a list of suggestions:

The Carnival of Las Tablas and Chitre in Panama

The magic atmosphere of Symi Island, Greece

Is Bangkok dangerous?

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