Kima Restaurant – Causing Waves in Marylebone
Kima is a new restaurant that opened its doors just over a month ago, and I was honoured to accompany my wonderful friend, Richard Vines, Bloomberg’s former Chief Food Critic, as his plus one. The restaurant is beautiful, the team is accomplished, and everything is already running like a well-oiled machine. This did not feel like a soft launch.
Kima means wave in Greek (as in the waves of the sea), and they specialise in fin-to-gill cooking—think nose-to-tail but for fish. For meat lovers, they have wonderful 32-day-aged steaks.
I texted Rich to say thank you for the invite, and I said from the website that it looked like we would be escaping to a Greek Island, eating wonderful fish and deliciously creative food, and I was right. Kima brings Greece and the islands, the cuisine, and the ingredients to you in London.
I travelled to Bond Street from Canary Wharf and whizzed through Selfridges, bought some coffee (here’s a little shout-out to Abdul at Nespresso for his wonderful service), and spotted Giorgio Locatelli. His restaurant, Locanda Locatelli, is consistently good and handy for overseas visitors that you may take to the London Eye or the South Bank. I then meandered up past the Wallace Collection. Their restaurant lifts your spirits; it is light and bright, and a stroll through their corridors is always a feast for the eyes and gets the brain thinking of yesteryear. But I was time-poor, so I reminisced of the times I would take my children there in the summer holidays, smiled, and walked up towards Marylebone High Street.
The last time I was on Marylebone High Street was in the mid-1990s for a course at Divertimenti given by Ursula Ferrigno. The cookery school was run by Camilla Schneideman, now MD, of Leiths School of Cookery and Wine (Camilla, if you ever read this, I still use my SKK frying pans!). I digress. If you are coming in from the North or West, Baker Street, Kima is a short stroll away, and you can pop into the beautiful Conran Shop on your way. I bought a wonderful remnant from Designers Guild, which will make a lovely small tablecloth. As you can see, when I make my way to London, I tend to tick off a few jobs before reaching my destination.
Back to Kima:
Every minutia of detail has been thought out with meaning and intent. I commented on the quality of the paper that the drinks menu was printed on. And Nikos turned to Andreas and said, ‘You see, it was worth the extra expense’. Nikos wanted this paper as it resembles the inside of an oyster shell.
You can have good food, but if the service is not right, that can tip the scales and spoils the meal. This team keeps the scales balanced, where both the front and back of the house work seamlessly together to create amazing food and service memories for you.
There are big smiles and welcomes when you walk in, I love that; it shows a happy team. I am chatty and naturally curious, so I found out that one of the waiters was from Corfu and the other from Rhodes, and in my asking far too many questions, I felt like we had known each other for more than the 5 minutes we had.
Throughout the night, we had explanations of the dishes that were given with pride and solid knowledge of the ingredients, Thank you, Vassia for your patience.
Above: Kima’s fish and meat fridges and white marble fresh fish counter
When you walk into Kima on your right, you will see a beautiful fish counter showcasing the fresh fish of the day, and it is set in an elegant white marble that transports you straight to Greece and Cyprus.
The restaurant has many personal touches that have been handcrafted. The mirrors and the olive branch macaron holders pop into my mind; they are made by Nikos Roussos, the Executive Chef and Managing Director’s dad. He retired from their family silversmith business, which Nikos joined when he finished his economics degree. I think Niko’s uniquely creative, meticulous attention to detail, and light, elegant touch, which are evident in the food he and his team create, stem from his family’s silversmith business roots. I planted the seed for Nikos to sell the olive branch stands and the plates made for the restaurant by Miss Loulla (pop onto their Instagram and watch the plates being handmade; it is mesmerising. Miss Loulla creates the waves on the plates with her individual thumbprints.
Andreas Labridis, the Managing Director and CEO, also studied Economics and worked at HSBC and JP Morgan on the equity trading side before opening this wonderful group of restaurants. As one of the most complex business models to get right, their previous worlds definitely stand them in great stead.
I had a wonderful, light, and refreshing Passionfruit Mocktail to start off with. For those who are not driving home, there is a comprehensive drinks menu with wines and beers from Greece, Italy, France and New Zealand. There is also a comprehensive sake list to complement the sashimi-style dishes. Their Passionfruit mocktail, screamed summer and was light, beautifully presented, and not too sweet.
Our decadent food journey started off with bottarga (a uniquely Greek salted sea bream roe) and the fluffiest and perfectly made bread.
We spread the bottarga onto the toasted bread, pate style, and it was delicious and a unique take on a bread course. The Grey Mullet Bottarga can be purchased from Maltby & Greek.
Next were the oysters, and they were very good.
Then we enjoyed the raw fish of the day served thinly sliced with extra virgin olive oil.
This was an outstanding dish and showcased everything Kima is skilled in their craft, everything is brilliantly executed, and the sourcing of ingredients is considered. The sea bream was cut skillfully thin. The fantastic ‘manaki’ unripe extra virgin olive oil with just the right amount of lemon juice and the tiniest freshly picked oregano flowers. This dish sang in my mouth and transported me to sunnier shores in one mouthful.
You can see the passion for creating and presenting the dishes that Nikos has from the photo Rich took of him shown above.
Next was the ‘poshest Greek Salad’ as one of my readers dubbed it on Instagram, and she was so right (thanks, Alexandra, you summed it up perfectly). First, look at the bowl! I love glassware, and this is just gorgeous. The reflection on the white tablecloth was beautiful, and the blue was more vibrant than, sadly my poor phone camera reflected.
Now let’s talk about olive oil… People talk endlessly about extra virgin olive oil, or EVOO if you want to be trendy. We all have favourites, but this oil is specially imported for the restaurant group, and it is delicious. It is a first harvest when the olives are still hard and unripe, and counter-intuitively, you would have thought that this would be harsh and bitter. It is light and flavoursome and it brought the salad together with all the flavours you enjoy in Greece and Cyprus in one mouthful. Vassia did say that they use tomato and olive juices in their dressing, which gives the salad a depth of flavour. The feta is also authentic, creamy, and noteworthy. If you want to try this style of olive oil the closest is Maltby & Greek Early Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The Greek Salad was served with an Octopus Xidato, which means served with vinegar in Greek and more of the delicious olive oil; it was ‘butter’ soft, beautifully charred and delicious.
Next, we tried the Prawn carabineros ‘giouvetsi’.
This is THE best orzo pasta. Yes, it is down to the talented chefs and made with the lightest touch, but the actual orzo is handmade and is much smaller and more refined than the commercially produced orzo. Again, I chatted with Vassia, and she said that it is made by Toxotis, Kythira, on the Ionian Islands, click and read their story. Vassia explained that the producers keep chickens and goats to produce the ingredients needed for their pasta, which is unlike any I have tasted.
You can pop across the road to Opso and purchase the orzo and the other pasta that they produce or the pasta can be ordered online from Maltby & Greek. The portion of prawns is very generous. Nikos and the team served this at room temperature (if you are Greek, you will be drawing in your breath in disbelief; think of someone serving you cold tomato risotto). If the base was warm, the raw carabineros prawns would have cooked through, which is not the result you would want. This was delicious. I renamed it when I was explaining what giouvesti is to Rich, not your Yiayia’s ‘giouvetsi’.
Below: Sea bream shank fricassee
This is where fin-to-gill cooking comes into play, meet the sea bream shank. The fish shank was charred on the grill and served on top of a fricassee, which is a Greek egg and lemon sauce. It was light and unusual.
Meet the 75 dots sea weed millefeuille! In Rich’s words, ‘This is a very Instagrammable dessert’. It is light and not overly sweet, elegant and the perfect memorable end to a meal at Kima.
I have taken to having a coffee every evening after dinner, and Kima’s coffee is Greek, mellow, and roasted in Thessaloniki. It was lovely. I can’t tell you what level of ‘buzz’ it will give you, as I have a gene that does not respond to caffeine! I know it’s strange, and I forgot to photograph the coffee! But the sugar bowl I snapped is beautiful.
Greek hospitality is generous, and Kima’s is abundant. An unexpected treat was brought to the table, these lovely pistachio macarons were the grand finale to our meal. They were crisp yet melted in your mouth, and they were beautifully made. This is the stand I mentioned above that Niko’s dad made for the petit-fours, isn’t it beautiful?
Photo on the right: Nikos, me, and Andreas. On the left, Richard Vines and myself
If you want to feel like you have been to Greece for an evening without navigating airports or the heat. Or if you are planning to meet friends in London or have a special anniversary coming up, book and enjoy a memorable meal, served by a wonderfully capable and hospitable team.
Kima also supports The Fishermen’s Mission, a national charity that works with fishermen and their families. If you choose, Kima can add an optional £1 to your bill as a donation to this impactful charity.
Kima currently opens Wednesdays–Sundays for lunch and dinner and Saturday–Sunday for brunch.
If you live nearby, they have a takeaway arm called Kima-way (isn’t that a clever name!). This is their home delivery menu available on Deliveroo, offering dishes that are healthy and light salads, dips and fish-centric alternatives to your usual takeaway offerings.
In a nutshell: The team is warm and welcoming, and the food is unique and excellently executed with love and meticulous detail. If you miss the warmth (both figuratively and literally) that comes with visiting Greece or Cyprus, you will love your dining experience at Kima.