Sometimes you just want it all. You want gin but you also want wine. You want to eat out but can’t be bothered to leave the sofa. You want Japanese but you also want tapas. Dinings have mastered this and, far from being tacky or ‘fusion’, per-se, what they do so well is sushi and tapas. Japanese tapas.
Ever since it opened in Marylebone back in 2006, Dinings has tried to redefine what we think of when we think of Japanese dining. The contemporary feel will remain when it opens in a Knightsbridge mews on the former site of Italian restaurant, Toto’s – originally built for use as an artist’s studio. As you’d expect of any self-respecting Japanese restaurant, sushi and sashimi exist as signature dishes, prepared using the freshest seafood from Cornish day boats. They are comparing the offering to European seafood bar culture, complete with the laid back, stress-free atmosphere you’d find on holiday and in Japanese Izakayas – a type of pub.
The 20-cover outdoor terrace is one of London’s hidden gems and will help guests to soak up the holiday atmosphere whilst the dramatic interior has kept the impressive carved wooden fireplace that stole the show back when the restaurant was Toto’s. A sophisticated menu includes a Japanese spin on fruits de mer – a spread of sushi, sashimi and raw seafood for diners to share – whilst a Josper grill will see robata-style dishes like Chilean seabass marinated in sweet soy and sansyo pepper and Scottish native lobster with yuzu kimizu sauce. It’s a menu fit for its Knightsbridge setting and the interior is slightly more opulent than the original Dinings complete with an intimate 10-cover sushi counter, 24-cover mezzanine dining room.
Drinks-wise, sakes will be seasonal, becoming fruitier in the summer and crisper in the autumn, with a family-run brewery in Japan just one of the independent suppliers they have chosen to work with. A similarly considered tea menu will be available as a pairing option, served in specially-chosen glassware to fully enhance the flavour profiles.
Sophisticated yet laid-back, Japanese but tapas. Dinings has solved all our dilemmas.
Dinings SW3: Opens 22nd May, Walton House, Lennox Gardens Mews, Walton Street, Knightsbridge, SW3 2JH, www.dinings.co.uk
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Fran can be found sipping espresso martinis by night and, by day, on the hunt for London's best brunch. Bonus points for a runny yolk and the perfect flat white.