In three words: Dazzling, Exquisite, Luxuriant
The Lowdown: When one thinks of a Japanese restaurant, they might imagine cool tones, minimalist style and a slightly austere atmosphere. After all, sometimes it’s all about the sushi and this is the main focus. But Zinnia are taking a different approach to fine Japanese dining.
As well as being a celebration of magnificent morsels, they are also endeavouring to create a space that you just want to hang out in. Rich reds, bold golds, gleaming mirrors, and an array of textures make this as vibrant and stylish as a head Geisha’s kimono. The result is a hub of glamour, with separate spaces for whatever you desire – a chilled out bar area and swanky bar; a secluded balcony for intimate overhead dining; a private nook for hire; and a more refined back room for larger groups. And not only does the space get two very hearty thumbs up – the sushi is masterful and the cocktails are to die for. In other words – all boxes ticked.
Location: Located on the Fulham road, you must first pass beautiful buildings that you’ll glance at in longing, until finally you see the welcoming swirls of their logo hanging outside a gorgeous Georgian townhouse that Zinnia is located inside.
The Occasion: Come here for a night of decadence and unplanned excitement. Start at the bar quaffing expertly made cocktails (if you’re feeling daring then start with a Wasabi Martini), then perhaps migrate to dinner, where your taste buds will soon start singing from sushi wizardry. Then perhaps head downstairs to the lounge area, where a DJ spins tunes and you can dance off that sashimi with a sake or two.
Decor: Zinnia nails ultra-cool glamour, balancing perfectly the traditional touches (red velvet seats, a Hollywood-esque bar, shining polished wood) with some ace contemporary touches (a mosaic of mirrors on the ceiling, claw-like lamps and fittings). It makes for a place that is both exceedingly comfortable and stylish, but also has that hint of edginess. The Alexander McQueen of interiors, darling.
Atmosphere: Although Zinnia is bang on trend, that doesn’t for a second mean there’s any pretension or snobbishness about the place. The staff are welcoming, friendly and eager to help (plus they really seem to know their stuff). There’s a buzzing, excitable atmosphere to Zinnia that makes you vow to return with friends.
Culinary Concept: This is sushi, done fabulously – Maki, Nigiri and Sashimi prevail, with Robata skewers, Tempura and some larger hot dishes. Still, the offerings aren’t just your average fair – our eyes alighted on salmon Sashimi with beetroot, guacamole and ginger, and a Maki roll of cucumber and walnut miso.
The chef has trained extensively and it shows in the execution.
What we tried: We’ve always found, with sushi, the best approach can be to let the chef take charge and showcase his talents. And so we relinquished control and allowed our palettes to be taken on a culinary adventure.
A feast of sushi was brought before us to try, each piece as delicious as the last. Salmon nigiri with pink ginger dressing was a wave of freshness with a delightful sweet finish, while Tuna Tartar Nigiri was too good to even consider adding wasabi or ginger. The Rainbow Tail was stunning, and the slivers of sashimi was so soft we could literally cut it with a chopstick – melt in your mouth just doesn’t cover it.
After that it simply got better. Scallops were succulent little pods of taste, while pork belly skewers had a sticky sweetness that tasted fabulous with the tempura vegetables, caressed by the lightest of batter. Then there was the roast honey glazed duck – slices of pink perfection complemented by poached daikon and ponzu. To finish, those with a sweet tooth will go wild for the Bento box of desserts. It looks stunning, and is a cornucopia of sweet stuff. Coconut mousse, bitter chocolate tart, green tea ice cream… our favourite was the Japanese rice pudding with rhubarb almond crumble. A brilliant Asian twist on comfort food.
For next time: It was all so good we’d eat the same sushi all over again, and relish it. We’re also keen to see if the Grilled Miso Glazed Black Cod matches up to everything else on the menu.
Veggie delights: It is completely possible to enjoy a vegetarian meal here – there’s cucumber maki, baby courgette skewers and vegetable hotpot among other things, so non-seafood scoffers will be content.
Best of the booze: The guys behind the bar know how to mix a mean cocktail, so take a seat, peruse the menu and let them wow you. The Earl grey Tea Martini was light and herbal, with the silkiness of egg and the delicate freshness of earl grey syrup, and Rye fans will go mad for the Sazerac. Later we moved on to Sake – the list is incredible and we recommend asking your waiter as they are well versed and can advise with the confidence and competence of a sommelier. Although half of the fun is trying to pronounce the list.
Overall: Once we entered the premises our expectations rose – for a space this luxe you want results in all areas. Luckily, these were all fulfilled, and exceeded. The quality of the food is sensational – seriously, you’ll be savouring each mouthful – while the staff make you feel extra special and are bursting with knowledge about the whole menu. For an authentic experience in surroundings that will have you feeling a million dollars, then Zinnia is the place to head.
86 Fulham Road, London, SW3 6HR