Known for menus that pair two cuisines, The Kitchens restaurant brand includes May Fair Kitchen (Spanish and Italian), Monmouth Kitchen (Italian and Peruvian), Leicester Square Kitchen (Mexican and Peruvian) and now Bloomsbury Street Kitchen (Mediterranean and Japanese) – a list which is rapidly collecting accolades for outstanding dining, with the Peter Street Kitchen in Manchester (Japanese and Mexican) winning Best Luxury Restaurant at this year’s British Restaurant Awards.
Mirroring the menu’s mix of Mediterranean and Japanese influences, this bright and airy space sees Italian glazed porcelain tiles and white marble harmoniously paired with sleek, minimalist touches such as concrete flooring and light wood seating. Glass screens reveal an indoor garden area dotted with terracotta pots containing Mediterranean olive trees and Japanese sago palm – the perfect outside-inside spot on the hot day of our visit – while in the main area draped foliage adds a soft, biophilic touch. The tables are set with both western cutlery and chopsticks, and dishes are beautifully presented on heavy earthenware in simple white or charcoal, while waiters snake smoking ceramic bincho grills through the tables for a contemporary twist on a Japanese culinary tradition.
Mediterranean and Japanese dishes are brought together in a carefully considered meeting of flavours, and whatever dishes you pick from the menu will arrive with their most palate-pleasing partner from either cuisine. Four small plates each was plenty, and there’s a good selection of vegetarian dishes among the meat and seafood. The mixed textures of the delicate Japanese flat tacos topped with chargrilled avocado with lime sea salt and wasabi sour cream were the perfect starting point, while the burrata with finely sliced Seville orange, coriander seeds and Manuka honey is summer eating at its best. However, the Chilean sea bass with Scotch bonnet-infused creamy labneh sauce is the showstopper – worth a visit alone. The slow-cooked glazed lamb shoulder gyros with chilli fries and lemon feta yoghurt are a heavier choice that really hit the spot, and are perfect for sharing as they come wrapped in neat individual parcels, complete with hessian bow. The Valencian orange and cinnamon creme brûlée decorated with a real pansy flower demands a shot for the ’gram, while the pear and apple tarte tatin with Tahitian vanilla ice cream is the perfect comfortably sweet finish to this mini culinary adventure.
Exciting and extensive, it’s a tough choice to pick from the diverse variety of wines, sake, aperitivi and cocktails on the menu, but the Pisco florale (BarSol Italia pisco, Niizawa sake, Noilly Prat, rose, lime and egg white) is Italy via Japan in a (rather glamourous) glass, while the rose sangria (San Salvatore rosé, Malfy Rosa gin, RinQuinQuin, Hystérie liqueur, strawberry, raspberry, lemon and nasturtium) is a pretty twist on the Spanish classic, and includes real raspberries and tiny nasturtium. To end the night on a note of sophistication, the hoba smoked Old Fashioned (Diplomático rum, Laphroaig whisky, Mozart Black, umeshu, chocolate bitters and hoba leaf smoke) uses the Japanese magnolia leaf (hoba) traditionally used to wrap and fire-cook food to grown-up, smoky effect.
Eight sharing plates, dessert and cocktails for two, £165
Whether you’re heading to Bloomsbury for a culture fix, a spot of shopping or to start off a night out, this is a great choice for lunch before heading off to the British Museum, to rest weary shopped-out feet on the tranquil outdoor terrace, or to just pull up a seat at the bar and work your way through an excellent drinks list.
9-13 Bloomsbury St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3QD; bloomsburystreetkitchen.co.uk