What’s the draw
When Ravinder Bhogal swapped fashion journalism for a career in food back in 2007, she probably couldn’t have guessed she’d end up opening one of London’s most-loved neighbourhood restaurants. But more than ten years on – a run in with Gordon Ramsay on The F Word, stints at Trishna and for Mark Hix, and many a TV presenting job down the line – here we are, sitting down for a meal at Jikoni; Bhogal’s first permanent venture, which opened on Blandford Street in 2016.
What to drink
There’s something about the intimate low-lighting and laid-back atmosphere at Jikoni that just says "wine, order all the wine" – so although there’s an impressive cocktail offering, we swerved those serves and took things glass by glass. A sweet and juicy 2016 chenin blanc from modern South African winemaker Jacques de Klerk saw us into our eclectic mix of small plates nicely. Then, with our mains, we nursed a glass of Mâcon-Villages chardonnay from French producer Domaine de la Verpailles. Rich with flaked almond and ripe peach, it makes for an excellent, approachable wine to be enjoyed alongside all the aromatic spices that weave their way through Jikoni’s menu.
What to eat
The cute surrounds give a nod to Bhogal’s global heritage, riffing off classic Indian dishes that are elevated to a whole new level by a knowingly kitsch room and flavour twists borrowed straight from Africa, Britain and the Middle East. Absolute must-orders include Bhogal’s signature prawn toast scotch egg with the sweet and tangy banana ketchup; the bhel puri, where the crunch of puffed rice and sprouting beans meets spiced sweet potato and a sharp yoghurt dressing; and the unbelievably tender chicken skewers, which are marinated in papaya and coconut oil before hitting the grill. If you’re not so keen on the small plate scene, then all your attention should be on the saffron fish and prawn pie with kedgeree sauce. One spoonful of this turmeric mash-topped beauty and you’ll never, ever want to eat plain old mash again.
Small plates from £10; wine from £8 by the glass. 19-21 Blandford Street, W1U 3DH; jikonilondon.com