On a dreary midweek evening, it would have been easy to walk past the chic exterior of Zuaya and disregard this as just another of London’s hipster restaurant trends. This however would be a mistake.
Despite the hammering rain outside concluding the Great British Summer as decidedly over, we were quickly invited in by Zuaya’s hospitable restaurant manager who showed us to our exotic and elegant table for the evening. Thick, green marble tables compliment the striking tropical ceiling of plants, polished gold glasses and neon wall signs. The kind of place you know instinctively you’ll have a good time!
Upon arrival, “London to Lima”, one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails was a must while taking in our heady surroundings. The concoction, similar to a Pisco sour but sweeter, was charming and beautifully presented with flowers sitting atop a pillowy, white foam. The Latin American menu offers plenty of choice, divided into meat/ fish/ vegetables/ sides.
A pleasingly generous bowl of guacamole appeared promptly before us, followed by delicate sweet potato crisps which we devoured in seconds. So much so, that our attentive server had our empty bowl replaced with a top up in the blink of an eye. These were moreish and a promising start to our evening into the exotic.
Garlic prawns with lime and chilli followed swiftly, sizzling away in a cast iron dish. The balanced flavours delivered plenty of punch and just the right amount of sauce to stain our lips and mop up the remnants afterwards.
We dived into our second of the fish tapas, Seabass Nikkei. Nikkei is Peruvian Japanese cuisine with much mystery about its origin but at Zuaya, prime cut seabass is served skilfully pan fried, crispy skin facing proudly outward on a bed of red peppers, onions and micro coriander, married together with a sticky sauce that glazed the surface of all the elements and pooled in the middle of the bowl. Fish cookery is an art and this was cooked perfectly.
Up next came the meat. As any good meat lover, my dining partner and I felt it criminal not to order the Argentinian sirloin topped with chimichurri. Steaks are cooked to order, sliced into finger sized wedges drizzled liberally with a vibrant herb sauce complimenting the deep flavour of the steak.
It doesn’t get any better than the milk-fed lamb. This is certainly one of the dishes I know I will return for. Succulent and coated in a mysterious green dressing. At this point, I abandoned all learned table manners and picked up the cutlets to gnaw intently at the bone, not to miss a morsel of the experience.
It is evident that dessert is not an afterthought at Zuaya and we followed their lead, sampling two recommended by our server. Gorgonzola cheesecake, plum jam and pistachios was a cheesy yet pleasant compromise between the age old sweet/savoury dessert debate. When you visit, leave room for the Dulce de Leche. This buttery flan was adorned with pineapple compote, whipped cream and a dehydrated pineapple crown, finished with a sprinkling of desiccated coconut. Sweet, creamy and just the right amount of naughtiness.
We left feeling transported. Our walk on the wild side had been nothing if not fun! Captivated by the food, service and overall attention to detail, this restaurant breaks from tradition and invites guests to relax into the wilderness.
To discover more, visit: zuaya.co.uk
Imagery courtesy of Zuaya / Frankie Field
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