An upturned fruit crate might not be the setting where one would expect to enjoy a gourmet meal in Peru’s capital, yet this is precisely the concept of IK Restaurant Lima, a trendy new addition to the Miraflores neighbourhood. Aracari was invited to try it out in January.
IK Lima – Gourmet Gastronomy
No giant fruits are to be found in aforementioned crate: the walls of the restaurant are staggered wooden slats intertwined with plants and backed with soft, natural lighting. The round tables are made from recycled wood, while the food is served on alabaster platters. Reflecting the natural style, smooth round stones are carefully arranged at each place on the table acting as props for the metal tongs used for eating. Restaurant owner Franco Kisic explained that the aim of this natural attire is to make diners feel relaxed; “We don’t want the restaurant to feel like a part of the city, but a retreat from Lima’s often chaotic environment.”
The story behind IK Lima
The restaurant is named after Franco’s twin brother, Ivan Kisic, who, at 36 years old, sadly passed away in a car accident in 2012. A well known Limeñan chef, Ivan had studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Canada and then in London alongside Virgilio Martínez of the world-famous Central as well as Lima restaurant in London (which has just received a Michelin Star). Ahead of his untimely passing, Ivan had plans to open his own gourmet restaurant in Lima.
To ensure that Ivan’s concept came to fruition, Franco and other family members pushed ahead to open the restaurant in his memory, and in line with his vision. Franco now has a team of investigators studying the notes his brother left behind and to go out in search of new ingredients and inspiration. Amongst other influences have been the Adrià brothers, Albert and Ferran, whose technique of opening “concepts” rather than restaurants has been reflected in I.K.’s ethos and design. Franco collaborated with Albert in Barcelona to set up Pakta, a Nikkei restaurant (Japanese-Peruvian fusion). He returned to Lima to take charge of I.K. and is now assisted by his cousin, chef Monica Kisic, who joined the team in late January.
I.K. opened on July 18th 2013. There were no announcements; they simply removed the façade and opened the doors. Restaurant goers can enjoy three separate environments: the main dining room on the ground floor with high ceilings and 11 round tables, designed to create space and intimacy, and to make it easier to share dishes, many of which are tapas-inspired and intended to be shared. Downstairs is the bar, a bit darker and more closed with a selection of cocktails and specially designed bar snacks. The private salon can be found upstairs, a discreet and classy space that can be reserved for dinner functions or parties. Even the restrooms offer guests a surprise—the walls are mirrors that create the illusion of an infinite number of ‘yous’ reflected back.
The menu, 85% of which was crafted by Ivan, does not disappoint. The focus is on sustainable and seasonal ingredients with products that are 100% native to Peru are bought locally in Lima or, if necessary, direct from the source (such as fish freshly caught from the port of Pisco, 5 hours south of Lima, to ensure the highest quality). The creative names for dishes like Pulpo en su red (Octopus in its net) and Chita 190°C are part of the effort to give diners not just a meal but an experience.
While talking with Franco, we had the thankless task of sampling a series of delicious fusion plates. All of the dishes we tried are modern takes on Peruvian classics, creatively and colourfully presented making them pleasing to the eye as well as the taste buds. The pisco infused pineapple cube cocktail, served with mint garnish and lime juice, was a biting and refreshing way to prepare the palette ahead of the meal. The pulpo grillado (grilled octopus) melted in the mouth; the Ceviche Amazónico lived up to its dramatic presentation, emerging from a folded banana leaf basket, while the crunchy skin of the chita was perfectly accompanied by the savoury flavor of juicy portabello mushrooms.
Dessert was to bring us more delights for the palette, beginning with the bombon roto, a take on Peru’s national drink, with a dark chocolate casing to replace the glass and filled with a refreshing Pisco foam and lime cream. We finished with the rich and textured Lúcuma en terrada, a beautifully textured dish, with soft chocolate and coffee powdered “earth” accompanied by chocolate shells filled with cream of lúcuma.
“We want to surprise guests,” Franco explained to us, “if they are at I.K. for a couple of hours, then we want it to be an experience that they remember, even if they only come once in their lives.” As we left the restaurant, pleasantly full and calmed by the relaxed atmosphere, we felt satisfied that, in our case, the Kisic brothers had achieved that goal.
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Elias Aguirre 179, Miraflores
Mondays to Thursdays: 1pm-3pm lunch; 8pm-11pm dinner;
Fridays: 1pm-3.30pm lunch; 8pm to 11.30pm dinner;
Saturdays: 8pm to 11.30pm dinner.
Bar closes 1-2am
Call +51 652 16 92 for reservations 9am-1am (11 tables)