If this summer taught us one thing, it’s that ruling your life according to Love Island makes sound sense. My diary throughout June and July was governed by the broadcast times of the reality TV show, as was most of Britain’s. I was at an engagement party that pretty much cleared out at 9:30 so everyone could be in front of their tellies in time for their daily instalment. So when Love Islander Dr Alex George tells you to head to a restaurant, surely it carries more weight than Giles Coren, Jay Rayner and Fay Maschler put together?
The restaurant in question is Zuaya, it has recently opened just off High Street Ken and don’t worry, there’s more to offer than just c-list celebrity support.
Enter Zuaya and you’ll immediately marvel at its size (it occupies a site approximately the size of a postage stamp), with a bar and a handful of covers upstairs and then it unfolds a little downstairs with a mixture of tables and booths. And it looks great too; look out for the monkeys (not real, sadly) hiding among the shrubbery, but impeccable quality of the decor is immediately apparent. Now I’m not going to go all Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen on you here, my style credentials don’t stretch much further than knowing my Homebase own-brand emulsion from my Elephant’s Breath, but the real question is what’s the food like?
And the answer, Dr Alex and I would both agree, is excellent.
Get a piña colada because they’re fabulous, and the glassware is pretty and don’t start with a corn brulee. They’re the founder’s favourite, but I personally found the taste odd. So I eye-rolled when my sweet potato ice cream turned up, assuming we were in for one of those weird concept meals. Which would have served me right for being unnecessarily judgemental, because it was great. The Ceviche a la Brasa consists of fresh sea bream served with red onion, Peruvian corn, Rocoto tiger milk and… sweet potato ice-cream. Get some.
And if cervice isn’t your thing, then the taccos will be. The Lamb Purple Taco was arguably one of the best things I’ve put into my mouth in 2018. With lamb shank, Moroccan Ras El Hanout, smoked pineapple and coriander, it’s a restaurant speciality and they flog more of them than anything else. I can see why.
Assuming you’ve not stuffed more Purple Taco down your throat than you can manage, then turn to the the robata menu. I’d recommend the Wild Turbot or the Robata Octopus. I generally work on the four legs good, eight legs bad principle, having fallen out with too many rubbery sea creatures in the past, so I was delighted that the octopus, served with potato cream (it’s mash), was absolutely delicious.
By this point you probably won’t have space, but get a Chocolate Surprise. On a menu with the likes of sweet potato ice cream and corn brulee, it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that there’s anything especially surprising about the Chocolate Surprise, it’s incredibly rich and very chocolatey, but that’s exactly what you want.
Zuaya is a real find. It’s taken the place of Arcadia, an Italian I spent many-a-lunchtime in when I worked at a nearby, and shall-remain-nameless, newspaper a stone’s throw away. Arcadia was a charming but seemingly fading Italian, so the new lease of life that Zuaya brings is welcome, but so is the menu which I really thought was excellent. Oh, and Dr Alex off of Love Island says you should go, and we know it’s best to always listen to the doctor.
35B Kensington High Street, Kensington, W8 5EB