First Look: South Beach Comes to K Street

The velvet ropes are up at Lima, the latest in a trail of dying-to-be-trendiest restaurant/lounge "concepts" to hit DC. Its look belies its K Street address–two skinny, sexy lounges and a dining room appointed with chocolate leather, tatami screens, and hostesses that look imported from South Beach. It's got cool credibility, too–nightclub promoter Masoud A. is an owner. Lima bills itself as more than a table-dancing destination, but too often the food comes across as an afterthought.

Chef Raynold Mendizabal, late of Pesce, lays out an ambitious, Cuban-accented menu. Though his ceviches–the tuna and blue-crab varieties especially–are nicely balanced, an appetizer of cumin-dusted sea scallops is upstaged by its side of serrano-ham-and-fig salad. What might be the Mid-Atlantic's only $14 empanada, filled with a sweet bind of porcini and beef, is no better than you'd find for a few bucks at a carryout. And a $32 rack of Berkshire pork was so overbrined one night it was inedibly salty. Our favorite parts of the meal? The lime-scented butter and baguette and tart caipirhinas at the start. Those we'd wait in line for.