Sumptuously situated within a grade 2 listed, late Gothic revival Victorian building with high carved ceilings, massive windows and plenty of original architectural features – a visit to upscale Indian restaurant, Zaika, is a feast for the eyes. That’s great, of course – a truly marvellous setting. Comfy too – and complemented by some of the most gracious and attentive service I’ve come across in London! But if you know me then you know I was there for more literal feasting. I’m happy to report that dishes during my recent visit were as attractively presented as the setting and taste just as gorgeous.
Head chef Navin Prasad’s kitchen delivers refined and delicate dishes that nonetheless check the boxes for filling and yummy. Case in point is the hearty yet dainty starter, pan-seared spiced scallops with sautéed cavolo nero and pumpkin sauce. Equally delicious, a main course of king prawns simmered in a rich coconut cream sauce flavoured with lime leaf proves curry prowess and gourmet subtly needn’t be mutually exclusive attributes. Stir-fried mixed greens with mustard and coconut shavings was a smart side and one I may attempt to replicate in my own kitchen. Cumin baked rice is a nice touch as well.
The wine list? Good stuff! I was perfectly pleased with a bottle of Cote du Rhone ‘Les Ozets’ 2009 Syrah Blend and how it seems to be a particularly good for pairing with a wide variety of dishes. Dessert? Positively charming. Chocolate Silk (pine kernel and nut brittle with a silky chocolate mouse and masala “chai’’ ice cream) is as mmm-able as you might image while the Trio of Brulee is a delightfully dulcet taster. The pistachio and rosewater brulee servings really did it for me. The melon, not so much but it was still enjoyable.
Recently acquired by the Tamarind Collection, Zaika is the fourth property in the fine dining Indian restaurant group. A refurb is in the works for later this year to revolutionise its interior. I’m intrigued and hope to visit again once the spruce up is complete. It’s my assumption – and hope – that they don’t have plans tweak the menu all that much or to alter the elegance of experience that accompanied my meal.
Zaika is located at 1 Kensington High Street, W8 5NP, across from the southwestern corner of Kensington Gardens. The Nearest London Underground Station is at High Street Kensington. Find out more at zaika-restaurant.co.uk.
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Photo: Chris Osburn