Sophisticated Indian Flavours at Zaika, Kensington High Street

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Wow, I actually forgot to take my camera with me to a restaurant I was intent to review, and my iPhone pics just didn’t do my dinner justice in this case. So, forgive the shot compliments of Zaika as I say thank you to the folks there for supplying the above pic for me to use.

I had been swamped with work and on the mend from a cold before my Friday night visit to upscale Indian restaurant, Zaika (hence, my atypical camera neglect). I reckoned an evening out fine dining with Kemey would be just the thing to reacquaint me with the nicer side of life. I was right. I left this Kensington High Street restaurant feeling recuperated, relaxed and really satisfied with my choice of dishes.

Sumptuously situated within a grade 2 listed, late Gothic revival Victorian building (it used to be a bank) with high carved ceilings, massive windows and plenty of original architectural features – a visit to Zaika is a feast for the eyes. That’s great, of course – a truly marvellous setting. Comfy too! But if you know me then you know I was there for more literal feasting.

Dishes are as attractively presented as the setting and taste just as gorgeous. Head chef Navin Prasad’s kitchen delivers refined and delicate dishes that nonetheless check the boxes for filling and yummy. Case in point is the hearty yet dainty starter, pan-seared spiced scallops with sautéed cavolo nero and pumpkin sauce (£14.50, sauce to change seasonally). Equally delicious, a main course of king prawns simmered in a rich coconut cream sauce flavoured with lime leaf (£19.50) proves curry prowess and gourmet subtly needn’t be mutually exclusive attributes. Stir-fried mixed greens with mustard and coconut shavings (£6.50) was a smart side and one I may attempt to replicate in my own kitchen. Cumin baked rice (£4.50) is a nice touch as well.

The wine list? Good stuff! I was perfectly pleased with our bottle (Kemey’s choice) of Cote du Rhone ‘Les Ozets’ 2009 Syrah Blend (£28) and how it seems to be a particularly good for pairing with a wide variety of dishes.

Dessert? Positively charming. Chocolate Silk (pine kernel and nut brittle with a silky chocolate mouse and masala “chai’’ ice cream, £9.50) is as mmm-able as you might imaginable while the Trio of Brulee (£9.50) is a delightfully dulcet taster. The pistachio and rosewater brulee servings really did it for me. The melon, not so much but it was still enjoyable.

Before I wrap up this review, I need to comment on the service. It was spectacular during our visit. Yeah, they knew we were coming to review the place. Yeah, it’s a fancy restaurant where attentive staff should be expected, not applauded. Still, we were made to feel so at home and at ease – especially by our gracious waiter Arjun – that a word of special thanks is in order. My dinner at Zaika was quite possibly the most accommodating meal I’ve ever had in London – definitely the most agreeable night out in a very long time.

Zaika is located at 1 Kensington High Street, W8 5NP. Recently acquired by the Tamarind Collection, Zaika is the fourth property in the fine dining Indian restaurant group. A refurb is in the works for later this year to revolutionise its interior. I’m intrigued and hope to visit again once the spruce up is complete. It’s my assumption – and hope – that they don’t have plans tweak the menu all that much or to alter the elegance of experience that accompanied my meal.

Find out more at zaika-restaurant.co.uk.

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About tikichris

London-Based Writer/Photographer
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