★★★★★ | Nirvana Kitchen, London
The definition of Nirvana is to be in a transcendental state – and that’s pretty much what happens to you in a visit to a restaurant called Nirvana Kitchen.
Located just minutes away from Marble Arch and nestled in a very quiet residential street, and attached to the very posh Montcalm Hotel, Nirvana Kitchen, is, as it’s website suggests, a Pan-Asian Odyssey. It’s also very delicious and will introduce you to flavours and tastes that you’ve never had before.
Let’s start with their small dishes (starters) menu. The Vegetarian Tempura is a steal at £9. There are eleven crunchy and crispy vegetables which included asparagus, mushrooms and broccoli plus two sauces – mango and miso. The vegetables were perfectly cooked, soft and excellently battered and extremely fresh – a perfect dish. But even better was the Duck Watermelon Salad. And why is it another steal at £14? Because it was absolutely superb, stunning and out of this world! Shredded Duck with mandarins, cooked watermelon, cashews, coriander, pomegranates, and basil enriched with a very tasty and mouth-watering mandarin and mint (ponzu) sauce – simply divine! The portion was big enough to be eaten as a main course if you accompanied it with rice. When you go to Nirvana Kitchen, this dish is simply a must! Other small dishes I’m dying to try next time include the Wild Mushroom Salad and Crispy Salted Squid (both at £11), and an intriguingly-sounding Rainbow Noodles (£10), among others.
You’re also in for a treat with their selection of main (Charcoal and Pots) courses. We had one from each and were glad we did. The Beef Bulgogi sounded interesting so that is what I ordered. Served on a leaf, this beautifully looking dish tasted just as good as it looked. There were many individual beef slices with a dollop of purple potatoes chokha and achari carrots – very tasty. Bulgogi is Korean style grilled meat and was nestled in it’s own sauce and was delicious. Priced at £24, it’s taste and flavour earned that price. My dining companion really enjoyed his Lamb Massaman Curry. It included cashew nuts, turnips, and was actually not very spicy. It comes in a huge charcoal bowl that keeps the soup oven hot until the very last sip! The lamb was very tender, and it’s beautiful colour added to its exoticness. And at £18 – it’s a great bargain. Other mains include Spiced Lamb Cutlets (£24), Chilean Seabass (£25), and Nirvana Baby Chicken (£17).
Nirvana Kitchen serves the usual beer and wines and cocktails, but I can highly recommend the Summer Rum Punch. It’s light and dark rums, pineapple, amaretto, Cointreau, and lemonade is a very refreshing drink on either a hot or cold day. The Maraschino Mojito and the Smoky Mexican are other possibilities. All cocktails are £14 each. The manager Daniel recommended the Italian Pinot Grigio red RIFF to accompany our main courses, and the wine didn’t take away from the delicious flavours of the food. All is all it was an absolute delight.
The restaurant is now in the space that used to be the61 Restaurant Steakhouse. It is a very clean, shiny and very opulent restaurant that can seat 110 people when it’s at it’s busiest. David recommends booking at least two weeks in advance if you want to eat here on the weekend – yes, it’s that popular! And he recommends the concept of sharing dishes, which is exactly what we did. You would be a fool not to because of the out of this world flavours of each dish you really want to taste and try as much as possible. And with very attentive service and friendly staff, you will have a delightful meal (don’t forget to have dessert!). Nirvana Kitchen is a little slice of Nirvana right in the heart of Central London.
Address: 61 Upper Berkeley Street, London W1H 7PP, United Kingdom
Tube: Marble Arch
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7958 3222
Price Rating: ££££
Opening Hours – Nirvana Kitchen:
Lunch 12:00 – 14:45
Dinner 18:00 – 22:45 (last order)
Opening Hours – Nirvana Bar
Mon-Thur 12:00 – 23:00
Fri- Sat 12:00 – 2:00 am
Sun 12:00 – 23:00
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.