Off the back of Usain Bolt-ing to open up a restaurant, David Beckham and Guy Ritchie buying a pub and Idris Elba squashing 007 rumours by instead opening a bar, it’s safe to say it has been quite the celebs-turn-hospitality led few months. So, why not throw Enrique Iglesias, Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael Nadal into the mix, eh?! Yes, we scoffed at the random prospect but the news is true. The threesome, whose looks don’t stray far from triplet-dom, have financially backed Zela, a restaurant residing in the ground floor of the ME hotel in Aldywch, London. It’s a destination which, I’m sure, people are going to flock to for more than just the food… Ronaldo only had to pop up an Insta of him and his girl at the venue and, the staff informed us, fans flocked to the location and nearly broke the phonelines (this is what happens when three hotties join forces!) So what did I think?
First Impression: Dazzling is the word I’d use. I think if I were to design a restaurant I’d make it look like this. It’s glitzy and has a sophisticated feel to it with dim lighting and an interior palette of golds and greens but it’s also relaxed, with smart offset by outdoors-in style foliage and wicker chairs that juxtapose plush midnight blue sofas. The space is large and features a bar laden with spirits, just what we like to see!
On The Menu: The gastronomic director is Michelin-recognised chef Ricardo Sanz – however our odds were on someone like Taylor Swift or Del Boy after this influx of celeb owned bars/pubs/restos/anything simply hospitality related! The menu is best for sharing, with a large focus on sushi and sub-headings inclusive of nigiri and uramaki, sashimi usuzukuri and mains. It’s eclectic, with raw dishes including tatakis, tartares, sashimi, sushi and tiraditos, fresh fish and seafood, and classic dishes like pork gyoza. I’d say it’s a complex menu for your everyday diner. I certainly wasn’t without questions! So it’s best to ask one of the informed staff members. The menu represents the sort of fresh and healthy diet the three stars at the helm of the venue like to eat everyday. We felt like we were reaping the same benefits, but then I ruined it by drinking way more than my cocktail quota!
What We Ate: Zela prides itself on being the home of the MEPPON cuisine, which is a fusion of Mediterranean products and traditional Japanese cuisine techniques; it’s really one of a kind in this aspect. We sampled a variety of dishes, but three caught my attention. The salmon “Hawaiian” poke with mango and avocado is a real palette cleanser, combining complimentary flavours. It’s fresh and can easily be shared between two as a starter. Next, the quail egg with white truffle is a simple must-have, it’s more of a mouthful as opposed to a dish but what a mighty fine mouthful it is. And finally, the 48-hour Wagyu Teriyaki (we had the sirloin cut). It simply falls off when you push your chopstick through it and tastes delicious; the sauce is a little on the rich side but works well combined with the potato. For dessert we enjoyed a mochi in green tea, chocolate and strawberry flavours. If you don’t have too much of a sweet tooth this is for you, as it oozes pure simplicity and tastes so refreshing. And if you do have a sweet tooth well, you’re going to love it anyway!
Tip: Get some chopstick training in before you visit Zela, that’s all you’ve got to work with!
What We Drank: Cocktails galore. I feel like you can’t go to Zela without holding a cocktail at some point and posing with it. My recommendation? The Hattorei. It features gin, grapefruit, sugar and earl grey foam! Grab a bottle of Spanish white wine as well.
Go With: A date; it has that vibe.
Where: Me London Hotel, 336-337 Strand, WC2R 1HA, www.zelalondon.com