Review: Sophisticated but safe dining at Kona, St James’ Court

PUBLISHED: 13:24 25 June 2015 | UPDATED: 14:52 01 July 2015

Kona Interior

Kona Interior

Niall Clutton

The recently opened Kona restaurant at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences offers a sophisticated dining experience in wonderfully opulent but serene surroundings.

The 46-cover restaurant, set in a leafy courtyard away from bustling Victoria, offers a menu from chef, David Tilley that channels the fresh and vibrant flavours of southern Europe.

A shot of cool, refreshing gazpacho was good to whet the appetite.

Lobster bisque, which surrounded a mound of Dorset crab and radish, was eagerly lapped up; smooth, with a salty sweetness that showcased the shellfish perfectly.

Foie gras was rich and creamy, sparked with aromatic coral-coloured peppercorns and damson jam.

More wafer was needed to spread the dense mixture but the buttery flavour was good, offset by jam fruitiness.

Pork belly from the grill was meaty and tasty, but char-bruised vine tomatoes and confit garlic did not provide enough moisture and the dish was slightly dry without a sauce (unthinkingly we took it for granted that it would accompany the meat, but is instead ordered separately for all grilled meats).

Another main dish of polenta arrived with a solid rendition of lamb Bolognese and baby aubergine.

To finish, buttermilk and rosemary panna cotta was velvety and subtle with pungency from the rosemary – thankfully not too sweet.

Whilst food was good, Kona needs to work up to the same “wow factor” of other St James’ Court offerings, like the Champagne Flight or 24 Karat Gold Afternoon Tea, which is offered in the same venue. There is potential here to become a bastion of understated elegance but in terms of innovation among contemporaries, it needs a little push.

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