Monday, 9 September 2013

Places To Eat In London: A Smartphone Photography Masterclass at Peruvian Restaurant Lima London, Fitzrovia

Last Monday myself and about 15 other food writers, photographers and bloggers were invited along by the wonderful team at Sauce Communications to Lima London, a wonderfully modern Peruvian restaurant in Fitzrovia, just a stones throw away from Tottenham Court Road tube station. The occasion was a masterclass in smartphone food photography from food photographer David Griffen, and of course to sample all of the delicious food. I was excited about the prospect of this dinner all weekend; obviously for the photography, but because I had absolutely no idea what Peruvian would entail. This is going to be a bit of a 'Places To Eat In London' post with a difference; for start, all the shots were taken on my iPhone, and I'll be throwing in a few restaurant smartphone photography tips as I go along and through the dishes. 
Lima Seabass

Now, you've probably noticed that I include lots of food Instagrams in my restaurant reviews anyway. I feel sometimes my iPhone captures the colours of the food and the feeling of the atmosphere around the table in the restaurant from the square snapshots than my DSLR can, and the fact that I'm happy with almost all the food photos that came out of the evening on my Instagram feed stands testament to that. This shot was all about framing, experimenting with different angles and heights, perhaps using your water glass and an impromptu tripod, and trying to remember that your shot, while initially phone sized will end up in a square frame in most cases. On the plate by the way is the first of our five courses and my second favourite, delicious raw slithers of Sea Bream Tiradito with Chia Seed (more for look than flavour), Yellow Aji (which tasted divine and I was sure to mop up with bread) and sprouts of Red Amaranth. Now, most of my friends think I hate raw fish and sushi, because I do. Every time I've ordered it for myself I've hated it, but every time I've just had it served up to me like this I've loved it. Go figure.
One thing I'm sure I still want my DLSR in restaurants for is grabbing shots of the decor. It was not something actually included in the masterclass, but as I usually like to show you guys a picture of what your surroundings would be like in any given eatery I grabbed a few shots, but I'm not at all happy with any of them.
Lima Scallops
Now the second course, the scallops. The scallops I am still thinking about and obsessing over a week later as one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. But first, lets talk about this photograph. The real challenge we all faced with the first two courses was they were very flat, and once we'd exhausted the overhead shot on the first course we had no idea what to do with another dish which was simply spread over the plate. After some playing around I found out that you could take the shot level with the food. I got right down by my scallops, used the touch focus on my iPhone screen to make sure the actual food was crystal clear and as a result got a lovely shot of the rest of the table in the background, getting atmosphere and food in one.
So, the Scallop Tiradito. They were raw, hand dived and served with Rococo Aji Pepper, and Sea Asparagus. Needless to say I'd never had raw scallops before, I had no idea what Rococo Aji Pepper was, and I had no idea Sea Asparagus was a thing before I saw it on the menu, but after the success of the first course I just dove straight in. The flavours were perfectly balanced, it was light, fresh and delicious, and something I will be going back for. If there is only one seafood dish I'd recommend in London right now, it is this.
Lima Octopus
Next up for our first hot dish was Braised Octopus Olivio with Organic White Quinoa, Bojita Olive and Red Shiso. I'm not sure at this time if I am fully won over by quinoa or not, but I enjoyed this. It was all delicious, but I felt the octopus, while it looked fantastic it was a bit of a let down. it tasted really good, but there was nothing to mark it out as the focal point, the showstopper part if you will of the dish. I preferred the garnishes.
Before the fourth course, we went around to the kitchen to take pictures of our food being plated up. David suggested that a camera and a business card, if you explain what you are doing can get you into a lot of kitchens to photograph, if you just ask. Personally, I was not into the lighting restrictions the kitchen lights and the phone combined offered, and like the decor this is another occasion where I'd want my DSLR in future.
Lima Beef
The beef course, which I would really describe as the main was Beef Pachamanca with Wild Black Quinoa, Hucatay Herb, Cows Milk (which is the white mousse) and Panca. This was delicious, and I enjoyed every bite of the delicious beef and trimmings. The Cows Milk mousse was odd, but it went well with the dish.
Lima French Red
A stand out for me with the beef dish was the wine. Each course was paired with a wine, and while they were all lovely and well chosen, this one was the one I savoured the most right through and also with my dessert. It was the perfect full bodied red, but with a surprising smooth finish. I'll be looking out for this in France.
On the menu for dessert was a deliciously rich Cacao Porcelana Mousse with Peru Cacao 75%, Cinnamon Cream and Blue Potato Crystal. As for the mousse with the biscuit base it was perfect, and the cinnaon cream hiding under the perfectly executed spoonful of mousse was perfectly balanced. However, I, like most other people sitting around the table were unsure about/ not great fans of the blue potato pieces which I don't thin really added anything to the dish. They did not really have a great flavour, and as far as adding texture the biscuit at the base did that perfectly. As this was so rich, I would have topped it with a sprinkle of course sea salt instead. 

Anyway, the photography. As you can see, my iPad on a blank white Safari screen is in the top corner of this shot. Once all the light had gone (there was only natural light in our part of the restaurant for our class) the brilliant idea of one of my fellow diners to use it as a portable light box to bring your food into view at the table. Pure genius.

Over all, it was a fantastic evening and I will be going back to Lima for both the food and the cocktails, and since attending the class I've started including some of these tips into my Instagram photos - I hope you find them helpful! Also, I know lots of you who follow me on Twitter are now excited about eating at Lima, be sure to let me know what you think! 


  1. You are way more adventurous than I am. I wouldn't touch that meal. Scallops, octopus, blah, gross.

  2. Smartphone photography masterclass? Sounds pretty interesting. I'm not too fond of seafood but that mousse looks amazing.

  3. Thanks for the tips, I'm always trying to improve my photos. Who would have thought of using an iPad for lighting!

    Luxx Mint

  4. the food looks exactly the kind i would love, being a seafood fanatic, but also your photography tips were so interesting. I'm excited to (hopefully) get my hands on the new iphone when it comes out, and up the quality of photos I take on my phone! x

    Miho @ Wander to Wonder

  5. Brilliant photos! All that food looks so delish

    she goes wear


  6. Hi Rachel - nice pictures with a smart phone! The meal sounds delicious. I will have to try it out (along with all the other good London restaurants)!

  7. Oh, you should try them - I used to think that too, but when I finally took the plunge they became among some of my favourites! :D

  8. what a moment you are captured in your photography. nice blog you have shared to your viewers which provide an amazing attraction regarding your photos. Thank you for provide the fantastic passion regarding photography.if anyone want to learn the photography you are the better option.