There is no restaurant in Birmingham which does colour like Chakana. Robert Otiz’s Peruvian food is a visual kaleidoscope of brightly lit shades, as if food drawn from the mind of a child imagining their perfect dinner. Each dish uses a Mark Rothko palate with Jackson Pollock flourishes or, more likely, draws from the dreamscape painting of Pablo Amaringo whose art was the result of drinking hallucinogenic plant brews.

The squid dish could be from one of these drug-addled visions of Amaringo; a white base with softly cooked strands of squid bobbing on the surface. Flecks of green and blobs of jet black and gold set within lipstick pink. It is food almost too pretty to eat. Almost. That’s a lie; it demands to be eaten. Dive in deep and it rewards you with savoury notes spiked with acidity, where garlic presents as gentle heat rather than a fierce pungency. There is the subtle tang of chive and a brightness from plenty of lime, whilst at the base sits a creamed starch; fudgy and substantial. It is glorious.

Prior to this is bread naturally dyed from a Peruvian grain to a purple the shade of Barney the Dinosaur, best used to dredge the bottom of a bumblebee yellow corn ceviche simultaneously sour and sweet. There are cork-sized rolls of mashed potato the colour of amaranth dressed in white crab meat and slithers of pickled onions the quiet pink of a baby-grow, best washed down with Pisco Sours, impeccably made and vivacious. We try three different types of quinoa; green, orange, and purple – as if this were Mardi Gras and not a former bank in Moseley – brunch like, with something akin to guacamole underneath it all. Everything has a freshness to it. It is food to enliven the soul.

Mains are as much about substance as pleasure. Pork belly, fatty and rich, comes fully dressed for a night out with folds of roasted pepper, carrots, courgettes, wilted leaves, beetroot and beans lounging on the crispy skin like ReesMoggs half asleep on a parliamentary bench. A sticky, almost molasses sauce adds a brooding depth. We try a rump of lamb with a purée of violet potatoes with white beans, which is the closest Robert will get to a conventional English dish, lifted with the suggestion of chilli and some earthy spices. A fat lobe of squash shows what Ortiz can do with vegetables alone. Roasted with the skin on and with ribbons of courgette hiding underneath the delicate carrot tuile, the key is the acidulated ricotta sauce with chive that almost fools me into thinking it’s wild garlic.

Replete, we skip dessert in favour of more Pisco Sours. Chakana is excellent. A genuinely interesting restaurant that dares to be different. Their world is brightly lit and full of the unexpected. It’s impossible not to love

This review was first published in Cibare magazine