Smooth & Creamy
What am I like? It's all give, give, give with me. I’m inviting all my friends to pop in to share where they’ve been recently. Here’s Lotte Jeffs, DIVA’s travel ed, with a food report from her wateringhole du jour, London’s Vanilla Bar & Restaurant:
Wow! I’ve just eaten – among other surprising concoctions – clay-encrusted potatoes, an egg cooked for 45 minutes at 64°C so the yolk and white are of the same poached consistency, and a date cake served with exploding cream (poured into a jug lined with dry ice, it bubbles and overflows like a tiny volcano). It might sound like an A-Level science project, but actually the food at Vanilla Bar and Restaurant is as satisfying and sophisticated as it is unashamedly showy.
Enter through a striking white bar – all ultra-modern furniture and hanging crystal lights – into the lavish black restaurant (it’s the tasty dark centre of the white vanilla pod – see what they did there?). The menu is divided into four-, six- or eight-course options. But trust me, despite the beguilingly small portions, four courses is quite sufficient!
As a vegetarian, I was pleased that the choices weren’t just after-thoughts, but prepared and presented as well as the meat and fish dishes. I loved the beetroot tart with goat’s cheese and guava, and the delicate artichoke, salsify, almond and herb salad. My carnivorous partner enjoyed the prawns with coco beans, razor clam and quinoa, and duck served with blueberries, pickled girolles and carrot purée. Nigerian head chef Izu Ani describes his kitchen as a ‘theatre’, with himself and his team as ‘performers’ providing guests with ‘entertainment for their eyes and palate’.
This is the perfect first-date restaurant. Not only is the interior guaranteed to impress, but if you’re struggling for conversation, the remarkable food will give you something to talk about.
Decor: Opulent, flash, modern, trendy
Good: Friendly, relaxed and knowledgeable waiters
Bad: Very small, but great for eavesdropping
Average price: Four-course menu £40 per person (exc drinks)
Overall star rating: 4/5
Vanilla Bar & Restaurant
131 Great Titchfield St, London W1W 5BB
T: 020 3008 7763