As London starts to come alive again and the September sunshine invites us to soak up the much missed joy of lunchtime dining, I find myself like a kid in a sweetshop, overcome with excitement that I can return to my favourite pastime - eating out.
Nestled just off Kensington High Street, today’s restaurant of choice is Zuaya, a vibrant Latin American restaurant and bar offering the perfect combination of mouth-watering tapas, imaginative cocktails and exceptional service in a uniquely chic, exotic and lively ambience. Whether you are looking to relax and indulge over cocktails in the snazzy bar or wish to be taken on an exciting culinary journey of Latin America, Zuaya offers a wonderful culinary experience with tempting, exotic and inventive Latin American (Brazilian, Peruvian, Mexican) & Spanish dishes.
Arriving at Zuaya, I was excited by the amount of tables occupied outside, with people enjoying a cheeky afternoon glass of wine as they took advantage of the weekday set lunch menu of Argentinian Chimichurri Sirloin with a green salad for just £14.50.
Walking into the restaurant, the interior is so special that you leave London at the door. The stylish furniture, lush foliage and elegant detail is the perfect oasis and escape. The interior reflects the lushness of the Amazon with a verdant green canopy of vegetation. There’s also a rather sexy basement – known as The Jungle – full of discrete corners for privacy.
The cocktail menu has a strong variety of classics as well as several Zuaya signature cocktails. I opted for the Brazilian Caipirinha which brought together Cachaça, sugar cane spirit, lime and sugar to create a lively, refreshing taste without being too sweet.
Zuaya’s kitchen is buzzing with top chefs, with most notably head Chef Francisco Lafee, former Sous Chef at the Michelin-starred Barrafina and previous Head Chef at the prestigious Chateau Claud-Bellevue just outside Bordeaux, France. He works alongside Head Sommelier Jaume Farrerons Torrent who joined Zuaya from the Michelin-starred Hakkasan.
The Zuaya menu is based around the Latin American tapas concept. Tapas starters, signature toasts (cured meat or sashimi on homemade toast), fish and seafood tapas, meat tapas, vegetables, salads and sides offer plenty of options for most palates and dietary requirements. The Sea Bass Ceviche with wild berries ‘cooked’ in Tiger’s milk was a super-fresh tasting combo - a light chilli heat and a slight hint of mango contrasting with the coolness of the chunks of fish.
The Grilled Iberian Pork with butternut squash and the Argentinian Sirloin with chimichurri were my two favourite dishes. The meat was so tender, it literally melted in my mouth.
Whether you decide to take advantage of the Express Lunch Menu, pop by after work for Happy Hour or want to impress clients, colleagues or friends with dinner, Zuaya will not disappoint!