Following the success of May Fair Kitchen and Monmouth Kitchen, Leicester Square Kitchen is the third restaurant from Edwardian Hotels. Based in the center of London, it offers contemporary small dishes based on the unique, vibrant and fresh flavours of Mexico and Peru.
You can definitely see inspiration from Monmouth Kitchen in the new opening's styling – large windows create a light, airy space with dark partition walls and a ceiling which seems to be covered in dried grass. The white marble topped tables that are becoming synonymous with 'the Kitchens' come in different heights to create a stylish, welcoming and relaxed environment to enjoy a bite or two.
Homemade nachos with guacamole arrived at the table first, which were delicious. A generous bowl of creamy guacamole with warming chilli and nachos which left your fingers coated with a fine orange dust. A great introduction to the meal.
Next arrived the first tacos of the night – Mayan-spiced marinated chicken with black lime, garlic salsa and cayenne pepper mayo. The balance of spice on the chicken was perfect, the soft tacos almost melted in your mouth and the cayenne pepper mayo tied everything together in a creamy but warming way.
This was in no way an elegant dish to eat – as you bit into it the filling came out and oozed around your mouth. I could have just eaten these for the rest of the right, but I’m quite glad I didn’t.
The chicken tacos were swiftly followed by the sea bass ceviche. We tried a similar dish at Monmouth Kitchen but I would argue that the chefs here did it even better. The sea bass was soft and smooth, the avocado ripened to perfection and creamy, the sauce tangy and sharp – a fabulous palate cleanser ahead of the rest of our meal.
Prawn tacos arrived next which consisted of crispy fried tiger prawns on top of soft tacos and a papaya habanero salsa that was tangy and warming.
Don’t think that you’ll be let down by the vegetarian dishes here – the Mexican street-spice asparagus is grilled on skewers and still retains a crunch. It is then smothered in a rich, thick, glossy sauce with bags of flavour and spice which will hit you with every mouthful, and lightly toasted sesame seeds that add texture.
Don't be deceived by the simple appearance of the stone bass when it arrives. The soft fish flakes as soon as your folk touches it. A crust of Andean chilli lime sea salt doesn't overpower the delicate flavour, but enhances it, almost draws it out, so that you are stopped in your tracks.
If you only try one thing on the menu, try the robato pisco-glazed smoked paprika ribs. They arrived sizzling hot, with the sauce bubbling around the meat. They were coated in a thick, sumptuous sauce that was spicy and sticky and coated everything it came in contact with – including my fingers. There is no elegant or clean way to eat these so have an extra stash of napkins at the ready because you will need them. It is worth it though as these spicy treats are addictively good.
Our final soft taco of the night was Josper-grilled chorizo. A josper grill is an interesting combination of a grill and an oven, which gave the chorizo a wonderfully smoky flavour. What was even better was it wasn't overly greasy – a problem that can sometimes occur with cooked chorizo. The Arbol chilli and lemon salsa cut through and gave a clean finish on the palate, and the smooth guacamole made a star appearance again to hold the taco together – until you bite into it, that is.
The tostadas were not what I was expecting. When I think tostada I think something covered in cheese and not particularly elegant, however Leicester Square Kitchen took them to the next level. If I had one criticism it would be that the smoked tuna could have been a touch more smoky, but it was soft and smooth in your mouth and again the tequila lime mustard cut through with a unique sharpness from the tequila. I will definitely remember this restaurant for its amazing sauces and salsas.
Make sure you save room for dessert, especially the Lima Sensación. A ring of the softest, creamiest, most delicate coconut mousse is filled with a sweet, sticky guava purée. Texture comes from a crisp and tacky raspberry tuile that sticks your teeth together, and a lime sponge adds a tartness to cut through the sweetness of the dish. Pair this with the little blobs of mango coulis around the plate and you have a fantastic dessert.
The Esfera de Chocolate were good, but not quite as satisfying. Warm chocolate doughnuts explode with gooey chocolate and pistachio as soon as your spoon hits it. Like everything else in this restaurant, the filling tasted divine, but the doughnuts themselves were slightly chewy and not as crisp on the outside as I would like.
The dulche de leche ice cream that was served with it was smooth and sublime and rich, and the caramelised pistachios like little explosions of sugar in your mouth. All they need to do now is perfect the doughnut.
What tops off the experience at Leicester Square Kitchen is the service – it is impeccable. Our waiter for the evening, Antonio, was brought in from Monmouth Kitchen after its fantastic success. He also had a brilliant memory, remembering us from the previous time, remembering what we had liked and disliked, and making spot on recommendations.
What’s more, he was the perfect balance of attentive and chatty, whilst not making you feel like he was invading your night – and it was the same for everyone there. Good service is simple. Great service takes time, practice and dedication, and the service at Leicester Square Kitchen is great.
Leicester Square Kitchen did not disappoint and if you are looking for a restaurant where you can enjoy some interesting and unique food, I would whole heartedly recommend coming here. Fantastic food, friendly service and a relaxed environment – what more do you need?