Jikoni’s dusty pink awnings, patterned textiles and floral tablecloths have proven to be a perfect fit in Marylebone Village, slotting in nicely in this curated, boutiquey part of London. There’s a warmth and energy that extends from Ravinder Bhogal and through her team - stepping through the entrance curtain into Jikoni really does feel like entering her home, and her free-spirited approach to flavours does have a ‘dinner at an insanely talented friend’s house’ sort of vibe.
The dining room manages to stay away from being too cutesy and kitsch, but it still has plenty of Instagram potential. White walls and marble tabletops keep things smart, but everything else feels like home, right down to the abundance of scatter cushions spread over bench seating, and soft fabric lampshades that cast gentle light across the room.
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 take on the Scotch egg – a Jikoni signature that sees soft, gooey quail’s egg wrapped in a prawn toast mix, served with banana ketchup.
A generous plate of charred Brussels sprouts arrived under a hot and sour dressing and a big handful of bonito flakes; hot, sour, sweet, with some umami fish funk, it’s a very well-judged dish that we’d eat twice over. Likewise a larger bowl of gently-poached scallops with congee, turmeric and lemongrass was a warm, comforting hug in a bowl that we finished with ease.
Jikoni often nails the flavours, but not everything is so well-executed in terms of technique. A delicious woodland mushroom vol-au-vent with saffron cream was slightly marred by tough puff pastry, for example. Likewise, a good apple and blackberry roulade felt a little heavy on cream and light on meringue - a subjective point perhaps.
The restaurant remains wonderful in its idiosyncrasies, and it’s a lovely place to enjoy dinner and an excellent cocktail - we recommend the pomegranate and fig leaf negroni.