SquareMeal Review of
It has been a rollercoaster six years for Ravinder Bhogal. Since Gordon Ramsay dubbed her the ‘new Fanny Craddock’ on his TV show The F Word she has launched award-winning cookbooks, TV shows and supper clubs. But Jikoni, her first restaurant, is her crowning glory. It’s a cosy little site, furnished with floral tablecloths, scatter cushions and fabric lampshades, kept on the formal side of kitsch by a smart marble bar and white walls. Jikoni means ‘kitchen’ in Swahili, and Bhogal’s east African-cum-Indian-cum-British heritage is reflected in a menu that infuses comforting Brit classics with exotic spices. Witness her three takes on the Scotch egg – our favourite saw soft, gooey quail’s egg wrapped in a prawn toast mix, served with banana ketchup. Elsewhere, crunchy, battered ‘popcorn’ cauliflower scattered with chilli and garlic, and soft-shell crab on a spicy relish, were standout small plates. Best main course was a half-lobster in a spicy coconut moilee curry sauce, topped with more shredded, creamed coconut (£24). But Bhogal can also deliver on a budget: a shepherd’s pie made with big chunks of scrag-end and infused with gentle spices was also top-drawer, and generously portioned for £14. There were only two let-downs – an uninspiring tapioca and mango jelly pudding, and a watery gin and cucumber lassi. Yet, with polished staff who buy-in to the ‘dinner at an insanely talented friend’s house’ vibe, and a fan-base injecting a real buzz, Bhogal has opened a wonderfully unique little restaurant.
Jikoni is recommended for