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Initially occupying a small basement below ill-fated French restaurant Jean-Jacques, this venture swims in the same gene pool, bringing affordable Russian street food to all three floors. Named after owner and Russian celebrity chef Alexei Zimin, the townhouse’s muted colour scheme is embellished with shabby quirks; charity shop-worthy rugs adorn the walls and wonky lamp shades make for an unconvincing new look. But the menu’s identity is far from confused, offering a succinct list of hot and cold choices, from herring tartare and cod liver salad to slow-cooked lamb tongue on a bed of buckwheat. The star dish is borsch, a traditional beetroot-based soup brimming with soft chunks of beef and a melting ball of sour cream: piquant, sweet, warming and just £5. Our fall-apart beef stroganoff was another highlight but, as with much of the menu, hearty rather than memorable. Indeed, the fun to be had here comes in sampling a slice of the motherland, from the invitation to down a home-infused vodka shot in the middle of dinner to the boisterous bar chat and Eastern European party music. If Zima develops its scattered character, it might just evolve from good value curiosity to Soho trailblazer.
020 7494 9111
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