In an up-and-coming part of Bayswater, a seemingly informal Japanese izakaya (tavern) where an ex-Nobu chef offers quirky and high quality dishes, at prices to match.
It’s touted as a simple Japanese izakaya (tavern), and this hard-edged, bare-filament-bulb-lit room could indeed be described in some senses as ‘basic’. The informality of the service, too, is broadly as you might expect in any inner-suburban venture aimed at the young professional market.
When it comes to the quality of the food, the presentation and the prices, however, this bit of Bayswater, now called Connaught Village, seems to have been swept up in the spread of ‘Prime Central London’ – the term used, in its strictest sense, to connote the capital’s residential property bulls-eye. This was recently reported by one estate agency to be creeping outwards at the rate of about a foot every day, and now (on the evidence of this opening) has carried on some way beyond its former outpost – the Blairs’ house, in Connaught Square.
Fortunately Chef Scott Hallsworth learnt his trade in the heart of the bulls-eye – at Nobu – and it turns out that he brings a level of skill to the cuisine that fully reflects the non-suburban pricing. The menu is quite diverse, but one signature element appears to be adding a bit of ‘bite’ to dishes where you might not necessarily expect it . (Very) spicy tuna maki, for example, comes ‘rolled in tempura crunchies’, and the result is very good too. Salmon sushi comes with not just a ‘Béarnaise salsa’, but also with ‘fries’ (of sweet potato).
Purists might complain about such additions, but most diners, we suspect, will be wowed more by both the originality of the cuisine, and dishes which offer a more rounded sensory experience than would be expected from the standard versions. Or, to put it another way, they are more fun.