There are many reasons why London is the greatest city on earth.
One them is that in the space of a walk you can eat Italian like in Italy, French like in France, Japanese like in Japan (granted, with a few local inflections…).
In an otherwise undistinguished Autumn weekend, this is just what we did, visiting in succession three of our long time favourites.
Latium continues to deliver immaculate ingredients prepared with simplicity and flair, the secret of Maurizio Morelli’s dishes being an uncannily exact judgement in seasoning and flavour balance. Sometimes, in Tripadvisor sort of critiques, one reads complaints about the lack of a ‘wow!’ factor. But there is a sense in which the triumph of this cuisine lies precisely in the lack of any recourse to wow, as well as in the repudiation of gimmicks and fashions: this is a cuisine of classical equilibrium, of precise proportions, a classy cuisine. Think small Renaissance building as opposed to tallest skyscraper in the world. No celebrities here (go to Zafferano or Locatelli, for that, but better not), just lovely food and lovely service.
Kikuchi, this little joint tucked away in the unglamorous side street that it shares with a glamorous Hakkasan branch. We’ll admit, it may not be the greatest Japanese in the world, and yet it is bloody good, bloody authentic. How not be entranced by taciturn, courteous Mr. Kikuchi meticulously toiling away at his pretty, tasty sushis in front of his small clientele, hour after hour, evening after evening? There’s a sense of timelessness here. And how not to be charmed by those junior waitresses, probably students, with their faltering English, so polite and so barely comprehensible, bringing an apt sense of remoteness, and even by the veteran, grumpier waitress who hardly smiles at you after all these years? Try Kikuchi and you’ll see: you’ll get the addiction too, you’ll need his dishes again and again.
Koffman’s: the old master, the most recent addition to our list of favourites but it feels like it has always been there, an immense technique and capacity for powerful, full, knock-out flavours (starting from his bread basket, perhaps the best in London) put at the service of your sheer enjoyment, not giving a fig either about Michelin star strictures (he’s had enough three-starred glory) or your diet: if he judges that in a dish that amount of butter and salt are needed to yield full flavour, that is what you get. No prissy calorie counting here. But relax: once in a while, you deserve it, and if you look well there are even lighter options on the menu. All served by one of the smoothest from of house teams in London.
The great man was surveying the service while we devoured our excellent turbot:
(yes, we like our turbot cheeks 🙂 )