KOL

Mexican·
££££
·
Gold Award
·
London, W1H 7BA ·Website ·Call020 3829 6888

SquareMeal Review of KOL

Gold Award

KOL is unlike dining anywhere else in London. This trendy Mexican restaurant offers a true oasis and a little slice of paradise. In this calming space highly skilled staff operate and set the tone that while you’re here - even if you only stay for an hour - you’re de vacaciones. Nothing is too much trouble.

With carefully considered plating it’s not hard to see why the menu, what felt like just moments after the restaurant’s opening, appeared in near its entirety all over Instagram. This is photo-friendly food that actually manages to tick both the style and substance boxes. Diners are welcomed to the table with a broth that magically has the whole substance of a meal in liquid form - warm, rich, luxurious, with the fulness of beef stock and subtle chilli warmth.

The kitchen sits in the middle of the room and there’s something reassuring about seeing your food be finished right in front of you by a team who works together in unison as if everyone in it is performing some kind of culinary endurance sport where concentration can’t be broken. Dishes are put together with precision using atomisers, tongs and tweezers for that signature fine-dining finish.

Reflecting the ambiance, warmth is woven through the menu, with chilli used carefully in countless forms – from the accompaniments on the vegetarian kohlrabi cevice through to the guajillo mayonnaise accompanying the seared lamb tostadas which is almost like a tartare. It’s difficult to eat dishes like this and not feel joyful, it’s clever and its curious and flavour is reinforced throughout. For example, the main short rib of beef is accompanied by carrots cooked in the fat for all-out descendance, while a smooth-as-silk corn husk ice cream is served with a steamed chocolate maize cake for a sweet, buttery finale.

Everything about KOL feels considered, even down to drinks list selections which champion smaller brands and present softs made in-house, like the hibiscus and beetroot agua fresca. The packed dining room is an indicator that the team here are giving the people what they want, a refreshing escape from reality – even if only all too brief.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Cuisines
Mexican
Ambience
Cool, Fine dining, Glamorous, Luxury, Widely spaced tables
Food Occasions
All day dining, Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Chef’s table, Vegetarian options
People
Celebrations, Celeb-spotting, Dates

About KOL

While there are plenty of places to grab tacos and tequila in London, there are fewer Mexican restaurants serving up fine-dining fare. KOL, having opened in the somewhat challenging year of 2020, hopes to bring a whole new kind of innovative Mexican cuisine to the UK’s capital.

The venture is headed up by chef Santiago Lastra who is keen to showcase Mexico’s food culture while simultaneously celebrating the best of British produce. The well-respected chef previously oversaw the launch of world-renowned restaurant Noma’s seven-week pop up in Mexico. While KOL will serve Mexican food made with ingredients sourced mainly in the UK it will also champion ingredients which are often looked upon as simple or low-end. Its approach to food is referenced in the name. KOL is a play on the Spanish word ‘col’, which translates as ‘cabbage’. Lastra revealed in an interview that he chose the name because he wants to show that “an average ingredient can be incredible”.

When dining at KOL, guests are given the choice between a five or six course tasing menu, and there is an option to add a wine pairing. While the food at KOL may flex and fluctuate with the seasons, guests can expect dishes offered to include the likes of langoustine tacos with smoked chilli, kohlrabi with pink mole and confit pork cheek carnitas.

Aside from the food offering, guests with a keen eye for detail will surely be impressed by the care taken over the interiors. Here you’ll find warm Mexican colours brough to life by the design team at A-NRD Studio. From rattan lightshades and rough pottery ornaments (sourced from indigenous communities in Mexico) to the wooden bar, the whole restaurant is an escape from the buzz of London outside. Nice touches include works from Mexican artist Fernando La Posse’s, whose full-length heritage corn husk mosaic hangs in the reception, and the tableware which has been gathered from 18 artisan potters across the UK.

Kol also boasts a bar, which has a focus on mezcal and natural wines.

Location for KOL

9 Seymour Street, London, W1H 7BA

020 3829 6888

Website

Opening Times

Lunch
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed 12:00-14:30
Thu 12:00-14:30
Fri 12:00-14:30
Sat 12:00-14:30
Sun Closed
Dinner
Mon Closed
Tue 17:00-22:00
Wed 17:00-22:00
Thu 17:00-22:00
Fri 17:00-22:00
Sat 17:00-22:00
Sun Closed
All day
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed Closed
Thu Closed
Fri Closed
Sat Closed
Sun 12:00-18:30

Reviews of KOL

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7 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Anon

Exceeded expectations
20 October 2021  

I never write reviews but I was so pleased with this restaurant I felt I owed it to the internet after all of the great recommendations I've gotten from it.
KOL is everything you would expect from a Mexican inspired restaurant and more. Amazing food and amazing service. Everything was delicious, flavours that you would've never imagined are combined to create culinary art. It completely met my expectations and I would recommend it to anyone who is willing to spend their money on *good* food. (get the octopus)

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Anon

Exceeded expectations
20 October 2021  

I never write reviews but I was so pleased with this restaurant I felt I owed it to the internet after all of the great recommendations I've gotten from it.
KOL is everything you would expect from a Mexican inspired restaurant and more. Amazing food and amazing service. Everything was delicious, flavours that you would've never imagined are combined to create culinary art. It completely met my expectations and I would recommend it to anyone who is willing to spend their money on *good* food. (get the octopus)

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L C Williams

Worth the Wait
28 June 2021  

I went to Kol last week with my partner and some friends for dinner and had a fantastic evening from start to finish. We had the 6 course tasting menu with the drinks flight and honestly had a fab evening - so much so i have booked to go back with more friends in September. I had a non-alcoholic flight, and my friend had the vegetarian tasting menu  - both equally as thoughtful and delicious as their alcholic and meaty/fishy counterparts. All the drinks went perfectly with the food, I didnt miss a new zealand sauvignon blanc in the slightest. It was refreshing to see such a varied and creative selection of wines and soft drinks, many of which we were told were uniquely created either by KOL or for KOL.

My experience of mexican food in the UK has been absolutely blown out the water by KOL - this is on another level and incomparable. I am not sure i can ever go back to a sad soggy foil wrapped excuse for a burrito now that British Lobster tacos are on offer in Marylebone. In fact its almost a bit of an insult to mention them in the same sentence. Anyway - cannot wait to come back and experience KOL's food and hospitality all over again.

 

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H Staines

Special & Sublime
14 June 2021  

Special and sublime is how I would describe my experience at KOL. I was with family and looking forward to the meal. I was not disappointed it was fantastic from start to finish.We were greeted and seated by staff with lovely smiles and felt so welcome, the whole atmosphere was understated and very relaxing made more so with the house special cocktail, a margarita.

The benefit of a tasting menu is that there is no stress in trying to decide what to have and no food envy when someone else’s plate arrives. The menu was brilliant and I struggle to choose a favourite, the lobster taco is on the list but then the grilled octopus with bone marrow is a melt in the mouth contender too, it was all delicious, surprising and beautifully plated. The little touches made me smile like the armadillo salt pot and the octopus scissors-who knew there was such a thing ? So much thought had gone into everything and when the attention to detail is so good the whole experience is really memorable. The kitchen is open so you can see all the chefs are preparing the food while you eat but it was calm, the team were superbly well organised, real artists and professionals. It was fascinating to watch while my asparagus spear was blow torched and the tacos flipped on the open fire pit.

Last but not least the brilliantly attentive  waiting staff and helpful informative sommelier who introduced us to some new wines and mezcal. I can’t wait to go back and see what further inspirational cooking awaits.

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Sarah W

Amazing Experience
09 June 2021  

We went to Kol for a celebration and there were five of us, we had a large table next to the open kitchen and could see the love and skill going into the food. It was more than just an amazing dinner, it was a great experience from start to finish. We opted for the nine course menu with the wine pairings each course being helpfully explained by the lovely staff. No question too big...they could even explain to us who made the plates they were served on! The highlight for me was the pulpo taco (or maybe the trout...don't make me choose). From the endless supply of tacos to the heavenly bone marrow, getting to use the "octopus scissors" added to the ceremony of the dish! Unusual wines that complemented the food, the pairings were spot on and the sommelier gave great tasting notes and background - the hibiscus mezcal was a stand out. The menu and the wines were outstanding and carefully considered from the get go.

no words other than to say thank you to the whole team at Kol for an incredible night, this restaurant is so much more than amazing food.

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Anon

Disappointed. KOL needs to be so much more.
06 June 2021  

I want to make this review as helpful for the team and the clients that decide to come here by pre-warning you of a couple of issues I faced.

I booked the restaurant for a table of 2 (the day before) and I was told that there was a charge of £70 per person and a 48 hour cancellation policy. Stuff happens in life and guests can not predict it. A 48 hour policy is totally unwarranted.

None the less, went ahead and booked for 930pm the next day. The next part is unbelievable. I was running 15 minutes late but my guest was already on the table. I received a call at 9.45 from reception (I was 5 minutes away) and they threatened me stating: if I did not arrive in 5 minutes, they would cut my dishes down from 9 courses to 6 courses. I explained my guest was on the table so they could begin serving us now (the 9 courses) and by the time I would arrive there would be no issues. They said that was not possible as there is a licensing issue (false information: It is just that their entire team DEMAND to leave at 11pm sharp). I asked why was I not told that I would lose 3 courses if I arrived 15 minutes late at time of booking? Why did they refuse to serve my guest and I the 9 course meal whilst he was already at the table? BTW - a 6 course meal is NOT enough food for you unless you have eaten dinner elsewhere and are popping in for a snack (and this is not my attempt at humour - its a fact). In spite of complaining to the Manager, they refused to serve my guest until I arrived.

The wine list – shocking. No Australian or Italian White Wine. The worst wine selection with an odd selection of quirky wines with fruit printed on the labels. They have no fruit in the wine and are from Slovakia. They taste vinegary like Kombucha. Food arrived & none of it was explained in detail. The serving team lacked the empathy to explain anything correctly and we could not hear them. They spoke so fast. I would constantly ask them to repeat. On the third time of repeating - I just thought, forget it, I will just eat it and I was embarassed. I had to ask for a menu, and read each dish as they served it. Another tip for you, keep the menu with you at all times so you can cross reference each dish.

One dish (no joke) had two asparagus spear heads on the plate (that is all) and after eating that - I was asked how the dish was. I looked at the waitor blankly and was surprised that he expected an answer on how the asparagus heads were!

Then came the Toastada which was so hard I almost broke a tooth on. Now onto the main - Pig Cheek. Great!! But the preperation failed & some of the cut pieces just had 100% fat on them.

The tortillas are served in a leather pouch with exactly 5 in the leather pouch. Yes makes sense for a table of two! These were quickly eaten as nothing substantial was served in any other course.

After we had finished our dinner, a server asked us if we would like more Tacos! I explained we had finished our dinner 15 minutes ago and had already eaten the pig cheek from the bowl with a spoon...

Note to management: the leather pouch as quirky as it looks on social media, does not help your serving staff monitor tacos quantities and refills.

And finally, at exactly 11pm, all the staff ran into the kitchen got changed, and exited through the restaurant with their rack sacks on passing our table - I have never ever seen this in any fine dining restaurant.
Staff must have the courtesy of allowing guests to leave, or leave through the back.

KOL thinks that social media and insta will cover all of the gaps and flaws in their service because of their following. They believe they can treat customers like they are in a doctors office, but hospitality (and lack of it) will always catch up. Being egoistical to the very customers that are the lifeblood of your business will lead to yet another restraunteer taking over 9 Seymour place. Good luck, but this experience has been memorable to me for all of the wrong reasons.

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Alex G

Mexican soul, and more
28 May 2021  

When Gourmand Gunno first travelled to Mexico many years ago he was told that the Mexicans believed their cuisine to be the third-best in the world. This was a clever notion: why try to claim you’re better than the French or the Italians (who apparently ranked numbers one and two)? At the same time though, you’re making a clear statement of intent about how you believe your food should be regarded. Even if this ranking is certainly open to debate, it is still fair to wonder just why there are so few restaurants serving genuine Mexican food in the world’s major cities. The good news for Londoners is that KOL seeks to address this anomaly. It delivers admirably. KOL should have opened in the spring of last year. With various lockdowns, it managed only six weeks of serving customers during 2020, but even in this short time, it had garnered a must-visit reputation. It was a delight then to dine there earlier this week, with KOL being fully functioning again as of mid-May and tables almost impossible to secure. The reason KOL has become so popular is that a huge amount of thoughtfulness has gone into the whole operation. The Chef/Patron, Santiago Lastra, is Mexican and his angle is unambiguously about trying to recreate the country’s authenticity rather than play to anything trendier or, God-forbid, Tex-Mex. Attention to detail is superlative. The look and feel of the venue is reminiscent of what might plausibly be found in Mexico City. Of particular note is the deep orange hue of the walls which are adorned with local earthenware and pottery. Presentation and art figures throughout the experience with the kitchen located bang in the centre of the venue. This allows diners to see the team at work. It is a wonderful snapshot into efficient collaboration. Everyone appeared to be working in harmony. Think of it as akin to immersive theatre. For the even more intrepid (and financially well-off) customer, there is a dedicated ‘private’ kitchen with accompanying chef’s table. KOL describes its food as having ‘Mexican soul’ but using British produce. It’s a nice angle and plays both to the themes of authenticity and provenance. A seemingly humble bowl of broth brought gratis before the meal proper speaks to the venue’s capabilities. That two inches of liquid can pack so much flavour intensity – of crab meat and chilli – was quite remarkable. All diners eat off a set menu, albeit with one or two choices. At lunch, this comprises either four or six small courses; for dinner, the range extends to six or nine. Almost everything that I and my dining comrade sampled (she chose off a vegetarian menu) impressed. Throughout, the story was consistently about artful composition and flavour intensity. Memorable experiences included the green asparagus first dish in which we both partook, where the scotch bonnet chilli was subtly yet harmoniously overlaid. My octopus main was also a delight, highly flavoursome and paired intriguingly with bone marrow and a seaweed macha. One final observation – and again, another indication of just how thoughtfully enterprising KOL has conceived its whole experience – is that almost all the wines available come from Central and Eastern Europe. This is far from conventional, but an inspired decision on the part of the Sommelier. Our Georgian white (which was unfiltered and slightly oxidised) was an inventive match, which worked. Additionally, there is a wide range of Mezcals available. In summary, an awful lot to like. The challenge is to secure a table.   

Food & Drink
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