Opened in mid-2009 in a hidden spot not far from the Larcomar shopping center in Miraflores, Central is one of the most exciting restaurants to hit Lima’s scene in some time. Thirty-one year old chef Virgilio Martinez is a Peruvian who worked in New York, Paris, Madrid, Colombia, and Southeast Asia for many years (& sometimes in the kitchens of Gaston Acurio) and returned to Lima to open his own restaurant. The global flair came with him in the kitchen: an English pastry chef, a Colombian sous-chef, a Mexican sommelier, and a Spanish mâitre d’.
It’s an impressive place. There’s one large dining room that faces an open kitchen – sort of a giant chef’s table. There’s also one smaller upstairs space with a wine cellar and, my favorite part, a sort of chef’s study with blackboard, a wall of books, and another wall of spice racks. It might be the best image of a world-class restaurant in all of Lima and it keeps getting better. The base of the menu is in Peruvian recipes and ingredients, but Martinez gets extremely creative: wasabi jello, foam from Singha (Thai) beer, tiradito in cocona sauce, purple charcoal grilled octopus, carpaccio with foie gras. Everything is beautifully plated, the wine list is superb, the cocktails are unusual, and the service great too. Their degustación menu (there are only a handful in Lima) is probably the best in town.
*Note: Virgillio Martinez will head the kitchen at the restaurant Lima London, set to open in London, UK in mid-2012. Don’t worry though, he’ll still be the chef of Central.
Calle Santa Isabel 376
Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.