Eat Here: Monmouth Kitchen, Covent Garden
Looking for somewhere new to eat in Seven Dials? Boy, are you in for a treat. For me, there are few finer things in life than sipping Pisco Sours with someone you love, whilst chowing down on flavoursome little nibbles and sharing plates – all in a sleek, sexy setting. Monmouth Kitchen is just that; the kind of restaurant you take someone you really want to impress, with killer food, delicious cocktails and an atmosphere that you could soak up for hours. Despite a hefty price tag, this might be my new favourite restaurant in London (when you need something extra special), and I suspect it might be yours too. Diaries at the ready, here’s everything you need to know about Monmouth Kitchen:
Monmouth Kitchen is a newly-opened restaurant in Seven Dials, Covent Garden, which embraces the art of shared dining in a sophisticated setting. Close to the lovely, quaint Neal’s Yard, surrounded by high-end boutiques and independent coffee shops, the restaurant is perfectly located for Christmas shopping and weekend adventures. It has a distinctly date-y feel, with a slick, marble-top bar for evening cocktails, leather booths for snuggling and a sexy, low-lit restaurant for dinner dates.
It’s perfect for one-on-one dinners, and you can enjoy a range of tasty bar snacks alongside drinks if you’re looking for something a little lighter and more informal. In the main dining room, the menu is divided between Italian and Peruvian cuisine; I’m normally sceptical about restaurants that offer up two cuisines (fearing they’ll do neither particularly well), but was so surprised by Monmouth Kitchen’s offering. In fact, they manage to juggle both cuisine with total culinary creativity and elegance, showing the skill of the kitchen and the thought that has gone into each and every dish. Top marks.
The food. Oh man, the food. We were in a Peruvian mood, so decided to opt for the South American cuisine – although, in the name of journalism, I also felt it my duty to test out some of the Italian dishes, and can happily say both were absolutely delicious. Word of warning: the portions here are very, very small. But what they lack in size, they certainly make up for in flavour. Every dish we sample was, to be completely honest, totally faultless – and although it may not be the best value for money, you’re paying for experience and quality at Monmouth Kitchen.
We started by sampling their Peruvian-inspired tacos, which are tiny, crunchy mouthfuls of pure heaven. Each a bite-sized mouthful (they really are one bite) is divine – the tuna tacos are filled with raw tuna, red onion, fresh lemon and chilli, in a crispy, flavoursome shell, and the salmon tacos come with raw salmon in a spicy jalapeño sauce. The tuna ones are so good, we end up ordering another round of then.
Next, we moved onto the raw fish dishes – the salmon ceviche and the yellowtail ceviche. The seabass ceviche comes with avocado, white corn and red onion – it’s full of flavour, with the perfect crunch from the fresh corn and the addition of creamy avocado bringing the whole thing together.
The organic salmon is also delightful – served with a celery infusion that really lifts the whole dish. These ceviches are absolutely out-of-this-world; full of fresh lime, chilli and coriander, with a real zing that complements the buttery-soft raw fish so well. The kind of dishes you want to eat again and again, they are incredibly moreish and yet so light and elegant. If you’re a ceviche lover, you must try them.
For mains (as it were, it’s all sharing really), we sampled some of their robata grill items. The grilled baby aubergine is melt-in-the-mouth good, with a real spicy kick from fresh chilli, and the grilled corn on the cob with salted chilli and lime is everything you could want from corn, really. The baby aubergine is, perhaps, for £9, a little too baby for my liking and they could do with increase the portion size, but it’s totally delicious nonetheless. For the sake of research, I also tried the wild mushroom and ricotta ravioli with sage butter for the Italian menu. It’s impressively flavoursome, with a creamy, melting middle and a beautifully rich buttery sauce – the kind of thing you want to mop up with bread or, basically, eat with a spoon. Delicious.
This is one restaurant that you won’t want to skip dessert at. The puddings here are a real highlight, and so beautifully present. We tried their semi-iconic (if you’re into Instagram, that is) Chocolate Caliente – chocolate spring rolls, served with coconut sorbet and passion fruit. They are absolutely divine; crispy fried pastry, with a melting-in-the-middle chocolate filling, perfect with the ice cold, tart sorbet. A bite of pure heaven. We also sampled the Café Almendra – a coffee brûlée with chocolate cacao, almond ice cream and mascarpone amaretto crème. It’s a little of the sickly side, with lots of creamy textures and ice cream, but the presentation is just too cute, served in a tea cup. Stop it.
They have a killer range of signature cocktails, most of which with a Peruvian twist. Their Pisco Sour is absolutely divine – a smooth mixture of egg white, sugar syrup, lime and bitters – it’s the perfect thing to enjoy alongside the ceviches. We also loved their take on a Negroni – the Andean Negroni is made with Bombay Sapphire gin, BarSol Perfecto Amor and Amaro Di Angostura, and is totally delicious.
If you’re looking for a sweet cocktail, the Batida Tropicolada is for you. Made with Abelha cachaça, coconut milk, condensed milk, guava, mango and lime, it’s the most fruity and exotic cocktail they offer, and I totally loved it. The cocktail list here is wicked, and you’ll be spoilt for choice with the offering.
If you can’t tell already, I totally loved Monmouth Kitchen. The food is sexy, shareable and totally addictive – it’s the kind of cuisine you just can’t get enough of. Even though the portions are little small, you’ll leave here feeling like you’ve had a true taste of London life, and I really can’t recommend their food enough. Take my word for it: just go.