Eat Here: The Ninth, FitzroviaBy Angelica Malin
This place. Oh boy, this place. The Ninth isn’t like all your other “sharing style” haunts, where the measy portions leave you wanting more (and thinking about a cheeky Nandos on the way home) or the concept tricks you into accidentally spending £100 on dinner. The Ninth is the sharing-style restaurant of your dreams – it’s everything you’ve been looking for and more. Amazing food, at reasonable prices, great vibe, a cool, slick service and fantastic location – perfect for a midweek date, friend catch-up or group party alike. Forget the rest, here’s why you should visit The Ninth:
The Ninth is the latest restaurant by London-based chef Jun Tanaka. With over 20 years experience working in London’s top restaurants, such as Le Gavroche and The Square, Tanaka has become a household name in the restaurant industry – as well as a recognised face on television. The Ninth is perfectly placed for exploring the best of London; located on Charlotte street, in the heart of London’s buzzy Fitzrovia neighbourhood. The restaurant has a great vibe about it – contemporary, yet warm and inviting, it offers up French Mediterranean-style dishes, all made for sharing. The a la carte menu focuses on the finest seasonal produce and vibrant, honest flavours; come here for house-cured meats and fish, robust French classics with Jun’s signature fresh twist, and lovingly thought-out vegetable dishes. Actually, the restaurant is perfect for vegetarians, with lots of stunning veggies dish – they certainly won’t miss out here.
The food. Oh baby, the food. This is French-inspired food like you’ve never tasted before – and the best thing is you get to taste all the best bits of the menu, as it’s all designed to be shared. The menu is a tad unusual, but don’t be put off by it – it just works. Divided into snacks, hot starters, raw and cured dishes, fish, meat and vegetables, you pick and choose between the lighter and more robust dishes, creating the perfect meal for yourself based on your personal tastes.
From the snacks, the Oxtail croquettes are absolutely dreamy – light, soft, bursting full of flavour. The salads are light and fresh – a fennel and blood orange with pomegranate vinaigrette is zingy and delicious, whereas the stracciatella di bufala with pickled beetroot and walnuts is simply divine. If you get only one dish (that would be silly), it must be this – the combination of the creamy, milky bufala with the sharpish of the picked sweet beetroot and crunch of the nuts is spot on. The sea bass carpaccio with salsa verde and pickled kohlrabi is also a real treat – the flavour of the fish is really complemented by the fresh lime kick, and the beautiful green salsa. Perfection.
For the hot starters, the ossobuco tortellini with bone marrow is a bold, flavoursome dish – the pasta is made fresh every day, and is always changing with the seasons. If you’re a fan of rabbit, then try their unusual rabbit lasagne – it’s set off with a mustard béchamel sauce, which is delicious. For mains, try the spiced cod – it’s an unusual dish, where perfectly soft, melt-in-the-mouth cod is paired with mussels and roast cauliflower, in a saffron-filled broth. Again, a bold, flavoursome dish, that isn’t scared of breaking the norm. I have it on very good authority that the lamb en croute with Jerusalem artichoke puree is a taste sensation (a take on a Beef Wellington, if you will, in a light, flaky pastry), but I was too busy chowing down on vegetables to notice.
The vegetables are, honestly, the star of the show here. If you’re veggie, you could make a meal out of these alone and you’d be totally satisfied. The cavolo nero is given a twist with a deeply satisfying, nutty hazelnut pesto – a beautiful touch that really elevates the vegetable. Their jerusalem artichokes are beautiful soft and full of flavours, whereas the toasted fregola and butternut squash with pecorino cheese is so naughty, but so good. It’s one of our favourite dishes – simply divine. We physically couldn’t get round to it, but the beetroot tatin is apparently world-class.
You can’t leave without trying their dessert – it’s a real menu highlight. Go for the Tarte Tatin, which is designed with two to share (although truthfully it could feed four) – the classic French dessert is pimped up with rosemary ice cream, which is unusual, but really works with the sweet glazed apple. The dessert of dreams.
As well as a strong wine list with lots of French wines, The Ninth does some wicked cocktails. For a taste of the best, try The Ninth cocktail – a beautiful mix of gin, apple, cucumber, elderflower and lemon. It’s what Saturday nights are for. They also do a wicked espresso martini, if that’s your bag (I can barely handle a non-decaf tea these days).
Honestly, The Ninth has it all. A menu that excites and challenges you – pushing you to think about London dining in a few way, away from your convention starter, main course, dessert, protocol – and allowing you to really feast on the flavours and styles that tempt you. It’s a restaurant that dares to do things differently – and, in that very act of rebellion, it shows you that you didn’t even know how well restaurant food could be done. Take my word for it, and get yourself down to Charlotte Street to taste the magic for yourself.
Photo Credits: Steve Lee
The Ninth is at 22 Charlotte St, London W1T 2NB