Credit to the backers of Roka that they astutely chose Canary Wharf for their second outlet, opening it some five years before either its Mayfair or Aldwych branches. Follow the money was perhaps the principle. Admittedly, it took me a full decade to visit this venue, but a recent lunchtime meal impressed both me and my comrade. If only all Roka experiences could be as satisfying as this one.
Zuma has become almost an institution on the London dining scene. Even more than 10 years on from opening it can still be hard to get a table here. It would be easy for a restaurant in such a position to dine out on its success, but standards have stayed consistently high. A recent lunchtime visit demonstrated that the food remains as good as ever. The atmosphere, however, left quite a lot to be desired.
Southam Street sees the transformation of a formerly grotty pub at the non-fashionable end of Notting Hill into a destination venue offering cocktails, food and a members’ club. Based on a recent visit, the owners are definitely doing something right. My comrade and I liked the vibe, but were perhaps less impressed with the food. In the end, this may not matter – the angle Southam Street seems to be going for is perhaps more style than substance...
I first reviewed this branch of Roka not long after it opened in summer 2014. Since then, I have been back probably half-a-dozen times both for lunch and dinner, but on each occasion – and despite being willing to give the place the benefit of the doubt (again) – I have been disappointed. A recent weekday lunch did nothing to change my impression.
For as long as I have been regularly dining in London Zuma has always had a fond place in my heart.
Chotto Mate ticks many boxes – it is cool, serves excellent food and wines and has enthusiastic and engaging staff. The catch, however, is the cost. The menu is somewhat bewildering in its complexity, the dishes are small and the bill can therefore rack up quickly.
Food fashions in London seem almost to change like the seasons. In the last few years, we’ve seen love affairs form both for South American-influenced restaurants (think Coya, Lima, Cerviche) and Asian street food (Bao, Hoppers etc.) among others.
Roka has justly built its reputation for modern and innovative Japanese-style dining based on its original Charlotte Street outpost. The empire now extends to four restaurants in London and a further one in Hong Kong.
It’s a fairly well-trodden path that you need to take if you want to try and succeed at present on the London restaurant scene – a menu comprising sharing dishes that draw their culinary influences from around the world, especially Asia and South America.