Dumplings have been turned into an art form at this new Georgian restaurant in the foody enclave of Charlotte Street.
Having fallen in love with Georgian food on her travels, Diana Militski wanted to bring its unique cuisine to the capital and give it a modern spin. The result is Kinkally, a play on the word of the traditional khinkali dumpling, and it is a striking minimalist spot, complete with a subterranean bar – another play on words with Bar Kinky.
We started the evening in a private booth in the bar, kinky indeed, with Diana telling us more about how it has all come about. She has been to Georgia many times and on her recent visits, she has been impressed by the evolving fusion scene there.
It is clearly a real labour of love, and she and her husband have poured a huge amount of passion into the project. Much thought has gone into all of the details. Everything is carefully understated. The lighting is low, the colours muted, with interest added through textured walls and stone. There are references to nature with wooden furniture and branches used as sculpture. There’s a pulsating techno dance track in the background. It’s very sultry and very much a W1 nightspot where a cool vibe will be as crucial as the drinks.
The cocktail list is interesting with a backstory behind each. If you’re feeling adventurous, then try the Artist: East London vodka, cherry, thyme… and goat cheese. But it was the Bossy that caught my attention, a twist on the margarita, it features El Rayo Plata tequila, orange, cacao, hazelnut, and Beurre Noisette – it was stunning, unusual with the salt placed prettily down one side of the glass rather than engulfing the rim.
We headed upstairs to the restaurant. It is a small but perfectly formed space, and, like the bar, decorated in a sleek minimalist style.
The menu is based on small plates but portions are generous. We tried a range: stand-outs included the rabbit pate, with nazuki and quince – this was almost foie gras like in its silky rich texture and served with a dense sweet bread. It was heavenly.
Gurian style beetroot, tkemali and wild mint was another favourite with a flavour-punch of beetroot freshened with herb and the sweet sour of tkemali sauce, a Georgian favourite.
Then it was on to the khinkali: the distinctive twisted shape is made beautiful and very ‘grammable here with many colours, even a black and white striped version. You can eat them elegantly with the wooden tongues or better still, with your fingers, dipping each dumpling into the sauce. My favourites of the khinkali were the Wagyu beef with peppercorn plum sauce and the mussels with a braised leek and limoncello sauce – the latter looked like it would be very rich but it was delightful and well-judged.
Desserts are not a big deal here. There is only one on the menu: matsoni cream with lemon and halva – a simple offering for those that need a sweet treat at the end of the meal.
We tried three glasses of Georgian wines – a white; orange and red. It was a very interesting range. The white was simple and refreshing, the orange, well, I am yet to convinced on orange wine generally. The red I tried was not one for me, having almost a meaty flavour – some love it, but it does divide opinion.
The Kinkally experience is really different and in London’s crowded restaurant scene there is much to applaud when a restaurant manages to stand out from the crowd and genuinely offer a unique concept. It is one I enjoyed a great deal. A fabulous addition to the Charlotte Street dining scene.
Small plates and khinkali from £10.
Around £30 to £50 per head.
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