Make Yourself At Home | Jikoni | 19-21 Blandford Street, Marylebone, London
Working in the hospitality industry means I have access to the CODE app and some amazing restaurant discounts – including 30% off food and drink at Jikoni – Ravinder Bhogal‘s restaurant in Marylebone. Ravinder rose to fame as the ‘new Fanny Cradock’, on Gordon Ramsay‘s The F Word. I best ‘knew’ her from the office when I worked for Now magazine and she was a beauty journalist at Look.
The food at Jikoni draws on a mixed heritage of flavours from Britain, East Africa, the Middle East and Asia – I’m not big on fusion food but the menu here looked wonderful. For all those reasons I was dying to visit her new restaurant, a lunch date with my sister, Jess, proved to be the ideal opportunity. Having just been made redundant, Jess was on a spending spree in the west end and I needed to sit her down and calm the spending for a couple of hours (it didn’t work.)
We stepped into a very quiet restaurant, surprising as it was a Friday lunchtime but we were immediately struck by the warm and friendly service and I mean friendly – our waitress felt like a long-lost friend and her colleague was brilliant too. It’s like eating at your granny’s house (not that I have one) – mix-match patterns everywhere, an explosion of bright florals and fancy embroidery. All the plump scatter cushions enabled me to have a comfortable dining seat for once.
The menu is right up my street – short but inventive, a bit of Googling is required though (or you can just ask the staff.) Having already set our sights set on a dessert each, we just shared a starter of Chicken skewers with peanut sauce, papaya achara (£12.50). Chicken skewers can sound like a pretty uninteresting choice of starter but it was far from it – succulent meat with a gorgeous creamy peanut sauce that I could have eaten by the ladleful.
Cocktails were fab too, although I stuck with just the one as some of us still had work to do. There’s nothing worse than a sour that turns out not to be a sour (this happens more often that you’d think), luckily not in this case of the Islay Sour (£10.50) with Laphroaig and cinnamon. My sister had a Machungwa & Chilli Martini (£10) with chilli-infused gin, Cointreau and an orange and ginger marmalade. Our waiter suggested she rub the chilli garnish around the rim if she wanted to spice things up a bit, thankfully she tasted it first as it was pretty fiery already but in a pleasant way – not a gasping for a bucket of milk way.
Bless her, wanting to prove her love and admiration for me (well that’s what I like to think anyway,) Jess ordered the Saffron fish stew (£18.50) with an unusual kataifi crust. Packed full of fish this was a stunning dish and she couldn’t praise it high enough. I was toying between the Dahi Cauliflower (£15) as I am obsessed with anything cauliflower these days (apart from ears) or the Duck Leg Rendang (£17.50) with jasmine rice and roti jala – I went for the latter. As with the chicken earlier, the duck meat was incredibly tender and flavoursome and the pickles provided a much-needed acidity, my only criticism was there wasn’t enough sauce but then I could have just asked for some more, I’m sure they would have obliged.
Not used to having such a heavy-going lunch (and after all that shopping) we were well and truly shattered, all I wanted to do is curl up amongst the cushions and sleep it off. We fancied all of the desserts but our stomachs said otherwise, so we shared the Banana Cake (£8) with miso butterscotch, Ovaltine kulfi and peanut brittle. Oh. My God. This was stunning, as light as a feather and extremly hard to share, especially the genius Ovaltine kulfi – so, so good.
The thought of heading to Oxford Circus and the madness that is the Apple Store after such a lovely and indulgent lunch was not very appealing but it had to be done (for her, not me.) I felt a little sad as we bid farewell to Jikoni, it deserved to be so much more popular than it was on our visit. It ticks all the ‘great restaurant’ boxes so please go there, discount or not – they do a two-course set menu for £20 or three-courses for £25. Their website says: ‘For us, Jikoni is an extension of our home, and we would very much like you to feel at home with us – a place where you can come by and eat, drink, do a little work or spend time relaxing with friends and family.’ You’ve achieved that and so much more, Jikoni – bravo.
19-21 Blandford Street
London W1U 3DH
Telephone: 020 7034 1988
Book a table online
12pm to 3pm – Tuesday to Saturday
5.30pm to 10.30pm- Monday to Saturday
12pm to 9.30pm – Lunch & dinner all day
Nearest station: Bond Street or Baker Street station (9 mins walk)