The Ninth, food review: ‘Fuss-free French Mediterranean cuisine’
- Credit: Archant
Having tied myself to the sort of career that demands you spend lunchtime hunched at your desk, quickly spooning gruel out of microwavable tubs, midday restaurant trips of any variety are a welcome novelty.
Faced with a free day to kill, however, I took the opportunity to enjoy one in style and headed down to Fitzrovia, where British-Japanese chef Jun Tanaka recently opened his new Charlotte Street restaurant, The Ninth.
Eggheads may remember Tanaka as the presenter of Channel 4’s Cooking It back in 2006, and over the years he has served under the likes of Michel Roux Jr and Marco Pierre White. Despite working in eight restaurants, though, this is the first he has owned – hence the name – and it gracefully follows his penchant for fuss-free French-Mediterranean cuisine.
Aesthetically, the interior is slick and moody.
Dark wooden flooring gives way to olive wall tiles and exposed brickwork, beyond which hang some show-stopping vintage copper lights.
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Quickly though, the sharing plate culture takes centre stage.
To start with, my partner and I wrestled over a delicately pickled sea bass carpaccio and a bowl of stracciatella di bufala.
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Amusingly categorised as ‘salad’, the latter was more akin to Italian cottage cheese, with achingly creamy mozzarella given texture by beetroot and walnut – an early highlight.
For mains, the quail with smoked bacon and fois gras was a fine indulgence – not too lean and stringy– but the whole smoked sea bream was the runaway winner. Oaky to the bone, with a sprinkling of lemon zest, it’s enough for two people, especially when paired with sides of pommes cocotte (roast potatoes with confit garlic) and a delicious fricassee of Jerusalem artichokes.
There was just enough room to share a tarte tatin, which was the best, flakiest version I’ve had, and came with a subtle, surprising rosemary ice cream.
Seated as we were next to a table of whispering oligarchs, within earshot of a Fitzrovia darling discussing the FT, The Ninth is clearly attracting the clientele every London bistro dreams of. With prices only venturing into the late teens for mains, though, it richly deserves to reach a wider audience too – whatever time of the day.
22, Charlotte Street, London W1T 2NB