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The third branch of Dinings – the original is in Marylebone and the second in Tel Aviv – has been re-calibrated to fit the Chelsea setting. Where Marylebone still feels like the cramped labour of love of ex-Nobu chef Tomonari Chiba, here in SW3 there’s a glossy sushi bar at street level giving on to a sunken dining room as well-groomed as the Chelsea clientele, complete with the huge ornamental fireplace inherited from the site’s previous incarnation as Toto’s. It’s a striking setting for some highly accomplished modern Japanese cooking that artfully blends tradition with innovation, and Japanese technique with European ingredients. The idea is to follow half a dozen sharing plates with sushi. First to arrive were mini taco shells filled with lobster and jalapeño and, even better, luscious fatty tuna; then came strips of melt-in-the-mouth wagyu tataki, silky double-cooked aubergine with sweet miso, and sweet-fleshed langoustine grilled on the josper. Carbs come in the form of the sushi rice wrapped around the likes of shrimp tempura with a crunchy scattering of tempura flakes, or forming an open sushi roll of chunky lobster tempura dolloped with a tangy sesame sauce. Purists may prefer the clean flavours of a simple piece of smoked eel or yellowtail nigiri. To drink, the seasonally-changing saké list includes Dinings’ own label, while there are plans for outside seating in the courtyard behind the cobbled mews location. Our only gripe is that some of the service isn’t nearly as polished as the setting and prices demand.
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