Sitting proudly at the top of Kensington high street you might recognise Zaika; from the outside at least as inside there has been a complete refurbishment which extends to the entire staff and management.
The former bank makes for a stunning and striking venue with its high ceilings and marble features, the long bar betrays its first purpose with cash register shaped features running along the back of the bar which separates it from the main dining area. It is definitely worth taking a moment to pull up pew at the bar to enjoy their impressive selection of cocktails and admire the artwork that fills the upper wall space. In a nod to the Northern Indian cuisine more than a few of the cocktails are infused with chillies, ironically the Spiced Honeycomb with Stolichnaya, pear puree, apple juice, chillies and honey was the spiciest thing I had all evening.
The Papdi Chaat with Spiced chickpeas, wheat crisps, yoghurt, blueberries and tamarind chutney, had a great mix of sweet and creamy with a tang of spice to keep things interesting. The Yakhni Shorba, a fragrant lamb stock with brunoise vegetables and pulled lamb had an almost Heston feel about it as the broth was poured over the salty and delicious lamb.
The smell of fish seemed to be all around us at one point as people kept ordering fish dishes, clearly thinking there must be some reason behind this the Ajwaini Macchi was ordered which entailed Monkfish chunks marinated with ginger, yoghurt, ajwain and turmeric – a fantastic and fresh dish. We were recommend the Dal Makhni, slow-cooked black lentils, from the waiter as apparently they are a speciality of the North-west frontier and we can see why, another charming order.
Wrapping things up I ordered the Red-Velvet Sponge for dessert, red velvet sponge with a creamy filling with a hint of cardamom giving it that authentic Indian flavour and sprinkled on top with salted caramel flavoured chocolate spaghetti shavings. It was a unique and enjoyable dish served with a rather pointless sour cherry sorbet. For those with a penchant for alcoholic desserts the Old Monk Rum Baba is the one for you, a Rum baba infused sponge served with vanilla ice cream and an optional shot of ‘Old Monk’ rum. When the initial kick of alcohol has calmed down the rum has a rather soft and sweet flavour to it.
A lot of thought and effort has clearly gone into the new look and menu of Zaika and evidently it was well executed, the whole evening was extremely enjoyable and not a single dish or cocktail was anything less than fabulous.