Zinnia is the latest new opening in London’s chic and buzzy Chelsea. This all-day Japanese fusion restaurant and lounge is located on Fulham Road. Set in a stunning Georgian building that those familiar with the London bar scene will remember as Eighty-Six, the interior has been beautifully redesigned to house a dedicated restaurant, relaxed bar with full menu and a sophisticated basement lounge over three floors.
The main bar area as you enter Zinnia is designed for relaxed all day dining at reclaimed timber topped tables which contrast with the comfortable leather banquette seating. Hints of opulence come through the ebony stained panelling and stunning gold fretwork screens which divide the bar from the more formal dining area and the intimate, cosy booths on the first floor. The focal point however is the long table-style front bar with a stone counter and opulent lacquer-finished character oak legs.
The restaurant area features sumptuous black and gold décor, large feature fireplace and flickering candles continue to create a feeling of luxury for guests dining a deux at the suede banquettes or at the large sharing table. This theme continues up to the mezzanine dining area.
Zinnia is open from midday onwards for a lunchtime retreat of bento boxes and sushi; afternoons are all about the Asian-inspired tea where you can enjoy a delectable selection of pastries, cakes and tarts baked daily on the premises accompanied with cups of steaming Flora Tea.
Heading into the evening the bar comes alive with a chilled soundtrack providing the perfect background to enjoy socialising with friends whilst sipping expertly mixed cocktails courtesy of some of London’s leading bartenders specialising in Japanese whisky and sake cocktails, as well as almost any cocktail you wish mixed to your liking.
The elegant dining area is decorated in black, red and gold and serves an evening a la carte menu boasting a range of delectable sushi, mouth-watering Robata grill offerings, larger plates of tasty fusion cuisine and delicious desserts overseen by an Executive Chef who has developed his skills in some of the city’s top kitchens.
Soon after the restaurant opening, SLOAN! Magazine was invited to sample some of the highlights of the evening menu and have a special tour of the new space including being the first people to view the glamorous Zinnia Lounge on the lower ground floor which had just been finished.
Our evening began in style with cocktails served by a passionate and talented bartender who was happy to share his love of mixology with us. We were asked what cocktail we would like as an aperitif and knowing that Zinnia is famous for being able to mix almost any cocktail to perfection we set the bartender the challenge of surprising us with cocktails based on a list of our favourite flavours. The bartender served a White Lady to my dining companion which had the perfect sour finish he was looking for from this lovely classic cocktail of gin, triple sec and lemon juice wrapped in a frothy white foam. I was presented with a special off-menu cocktail made with amaretto, Grand Marnier and Diplomatico rum which was sweet yet strong and the ideal start to our evening in this chic Chelsea hangout.
Our host informed us that Chef had selected a special tasting menu for us so that we could have a fuller experience of the food on offer. We started with expertly prepared sushi made with Scottish salmon, Yellowtail, Ahi tuna and smoked eel. The fish was beautifully fresh and the nigiri rice was cooked to perfection and not overly sticky. The sushi was accompanied by a light and well balanced sake that was specially chosen to complement the delicate flavours of the meal.
We then sampled the Salt & Pepper Squid and Tempura Tiger Prawns. The squid was perhaps too delicately seasoned but had been well cooked whilst the prawns were succulent and coated in a tempura batter that owed it’s lightness to the use of sparkling water.
These small dishes were followed by succulent bitesize squares of Szechuan Glazed Pork Belly served with fragrant lotus root, petit pear and ginger. The pork was meltingly tender and juicy and the addition of lotus root raised this dish up to a higher level of delectability and lotus root is certainly an ingredient I would like to see more of in London’s Japanese cuisine scene.
Then came the Miso Glazed Black Cod served with Wasabi Mash and Samphire which is one of the most popular dishes on the menu and it is not hard to see why. The fish was cooked to perfection and flaked beautifully under the touch of the chopsticks. Thankfully the potato was carefully flavoured with the wasabi and was not overpowering in flavour whatsoever.
From Zinnia’s Robata grill we were served Yakitori Chicken and Teriyaki Beef which came on skewers that held generous portions of meat. The Yakitori Chicken had good flavour but could have been a little more moist. The Teriyaki Beef in contrast was cooked just right with a soft texture and robust teriyaki perfume that was a delight to the taste buds.
The earlier dishes on the tasting menu had been judged perfectly to leave just enough room for dessert which we were glad about as Zinnia’s desserts are worth the wait. We were served the fresh and palate-cleansing Coconut and Mango Sphere which was accompanied by Mango Sorbet and Almond Crunch. This looked like a work of art on the plate that would not have been out of place at the Tate Modern. The sheen of the mango outer layer gave way to the fluffy light texture of the coconut dessert inside which revealed a hidden raspberry centre as the dessert spoon delved deeper. This dessert was the perfect combination of flavours and textures and comes highly recommended.
Our second dessert was a decadent Bitter Chocolate Tart. This was in the shape of a small log and had a dark chocolate coating inside of which was a Bailey’s and milk chocolate mousse all sat on a barely there biscuit base. This dessert was very rich and definitely for die-hard chocolate fans as the mousse was so thick and chocolatey that it was almost cloying on the palate.
Dessert was complimented by a small glass of special sake made with the yeast of strawberry blossoms which had a heady berry aroma and sweet fruitiness on the palate. If you’d like to try this one, ask for the Amabuki Junmai Ginjo Strawberry. If you’re looking for some of the best sake and sake cocktails in town, we would thoroughly recommend you head down to Zinnia and sample their wonderful offerings in their elegant relaxed bar.
After enjoying drinks in the bar, why not take the party right through the evening and into the night in the glamorous Zinnia Lounge, hidden beneath the main restaurant. This is an invitation only lounge which provides a secret den for sophisticated fun in surroundings that are both comfortable and stylish with suede banquette seating and lots of smoked glass, brass, black and gold. The DJ booth will make it the perfect place to round off your party. The Zinnia Lounge will also be available for exclusive use bookings.
All the staff at this Chelsea establishment are welcoming and friendly and have genuine passion for what they do. Zinnia is definitely a destination that SLOAN! recommends to enjoy a sophisticated and chilled evening, whether you choose to dine there or just go to enjoy some of the best cocktails in London.
86 Fulham Road
0207 052 0052