Glass Enjoys Tasting, Sharing and Calorie-Counting Menus

Sachi is a winner, all brick and timber designed to craft a hassle-free habitat for the sharing of Japanese food. Maki rolls, tempura, sashimi and nigri arrive at your table, immaculately presented on plates and in bowls that you can be sure will be bare by the end of the meal.

Upbeat music plays in the background, never too loud and perfect for socializing over food that invites being talked about. Cocktails range from the irreproachable Vesper Martini, proving its worth since the restaurant first opened in the summer of 2021, to a provocatively tart wasabi margarita.

The intelligent wine list, which includes a Yamanashi, is versatile enough to engage anyone shy of indulging in some of the many kinds of sake which are also available. Sachi occupies space in Belgravia’s Pantechnicon, a building of such radiant whiteness that at night it shines preposterously like an apparition from ancient Greece or a giant virtual reality installation.

At the top of Pantechnicon there is an enclosed roof garden bar but the lower ground floor is where the time should be spent, right down to spearing that remaining crab-filled maki roll before your companion gets there first.

Immaculate presentation of alluring dishes at Sachi in Pantechnicon

Cavita, in Mayfair’s Wigmore Street, opened its doors in May last year and has been welcoming a steady stream of diners to its marble-topped tables ever since. The décor artfully evokes a cantina – rustic colours, bare walls, paper lanterns, spider plants and other greenery hanging from the ceiling – but an upmarket one at that. As with Sachi, the plates are for sharing, so much so that a group of four could work their way through most of the menu.

Authenticity is all, with three types of corn imported from Mexico that arrive as dry kernels before their transformation into dough for the kitchen, as well as what might be the widest choice of mezcales and tequilas available in London (and also available in the restaurant’s laid-back basement bar, Mayahuel).  Familiarity with tacos can be taken for granted but not with the zingy (courtesy of chipotle salsa and fermented cabbage) Baja fish ones crafted here using masa.

The more dishes you try, like the hake in the  pescado a la Vizcaina,  the more their tastes dance in the mouth and, true to Cavita’s immersive experience, register as highly distinctive for jaded Western palates. 

Cavita’s rustic colours, bare walls, paper lanterns, spider plants and other greenery

Some restaurants fearlessly resist easy classification, defying expectations by being more than what a label suggests, and Sollip is superlative in this respect. Think Korean cuisine, then come to this restaurant for something that is and is not identifiable as such. The culinary alchemy kicks off with three pop-in-your-mouth hors d’oeuvres, deploying persimmon, caviar, gamtae (a nori-like Korean seaweed) and a Caerphilly cheese, to delight and prepare the palate for more surprises.

Tarte Tatin is as classically French as possible but at Sollip it becomes a sui generis dessert, composed of daikon, not apple, plus burnt hay and roasted potato.  Not originally designed as a signature dish, it achieved wow status after appearing on the restaurant’s opening menu.

If it did play a part in the award of a Michelin Star in 2022, it would have been because it was recognised not as idiosyncratic but characteristic of a highly creative blending of familiar European tastes with Korean ones.

Open each evening for its seasonally-changing single tasting menu, Chef Woongchul Park and Bomee Ki, with service by Vita and her knowledge of the ingredients for every course, provide an original food experience of a kind that can be found by journeying down a small street in the shadow of the Shard.

Chef Woongchul Park and Bomee Ki at Sollip

Just off Piccadilly in Sackville Street, Amethyst ought to be easy to find but on a dark and wet winter evening I walked past it twice before realising the heavy door at No 6 needed pushing open. It would be a spoiler to describe the interior layout but be assured this bespoke dining of a high order has found a table design that complements the restaurant’s aspirations.

A tasting menu is again the order of the day – 12 courses but strictly for gourmets not gourmands — and wine pairings rise to the challenge of accompanying the multivalent courses, beginning with a trio of cutlery-free delicacies that launch gentle but intriguing assaults in the mouth. Scallops with caviar and wasabi attune the palate for the first main course: salmon, perfumed with rose petal and served with foie gras and yuzu, confirming the feeling that this is a meal in a class of its own.

An interval, courtesy of bread to dip in a swirling sauce of ginger, tomato and the green part of rhubarb, gives pause for reflection and digestion before the second half gets under way with more dazzling food chemistry. The black cod lives up to its adjective and arrives at your table looking like a seriously burnt piece of something not necessarily edible but its white, softly fleshy taste is well matched with the sharpness of the miso with which it is caramelised.

Amethyst’s open kitchen operates like a silent movie without music, waiters move around as if choreographed and blend dreamily with diners’ hushed  mood of respect for a food odyssey that defies expectation (and not just because the menu only arrives after the last course). Eating here is an experience not easily forgotten, a modernist performance of food theatre where you sit on the stage as the main actor in a twelve-scene drama.

Black cod with caramelised miso, burnt hay and a Roscoff onion broth in a clay bowl at Amethyst

Tables by the lively kitchen as well as more private spaces at Studio Frantzen

Opened at towards the end of 2022, the first London outing for Michelin Star-collecting Swedish chef Bjőrn Frantzén has swiftly established itself as a food destination, notwithstanding Studio Frantzén’s location in the capital’s most recognized department store. Slip through the Chanel concession and up the escalator to the fifth level to enter a bar area that comfortingly evokes the mood of an exclusive jazz club, far removed from the shrines to consumerism on the floors below.

The split-level restaurant itself has tables facing the kitchen, less public ones where you can sit and observe the comings and goings and a covered rooftop terrace that will come into its own later in the year.  The menu is varied but firmly meat- and fish-based and vegetarians may feel constrained; the calories count for every dish is stated, escalating from 138 for cauliflower with truffle and Parmesan to over 800 for the Chef’s signature of steamed turbot.

Scandinavian proclivities dictate a choice of raw starters as well as oysters and being Harrods the caviar is one of the most expensive kind (Oscietra), democratised by arriving with humble jackfruit waffles and crème fraîche. Other more multiplex starters are enticing, like roasted scallops lying under a bundle of lichen and on top of scrambled duck eggs, all anointed with smoked pea soy. 

The main dishes play with Nordic and Asian ingredients in clever ways and, as with the menu as a whole, only some are decidedly pricey – another reason to to make the thought of returning to Studio Frantzén for different choices from its wide menu a very desirable prospect. 

by Sean Sheehan

Sachi 19 Motcomb Street London  SW1X 8LB  

Cavita 60 Wigmore Street London W1U2RZ

Sollip  8 Melior Street London SE1 3QP

Amethyst  6 Sackville Street London W1S 3DD

Studio Frantzén  Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1X 7X

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Glass Online food writer

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