Onima Brings A Sharing Ethos To Fancy Mayfair Food
Hidden in a historic townhouse on the backstreets of Mayfair, Onima could easily go unnoticed. This new opening doesn't jump out, but then again, nothing does on this extremely wet December Sunday night — part of London's short-lived monsoon season. However, once we step inside, we're welcomed into a slick (and perhaps more importantly, tonight at least) warm world.
We kick things off with cocktails. The Bellini starts strong but we keep waiting for an extra flavour to hit at the end, and alas it never arrives (a sensation we're used to after riding London buses for years). The Aztec 'n' Tonic delivers on the kick, and the Mezcal's flavours aren't overcrowded by the drink's other ingredients.
Everything at Onima is intended to share, so for a starter we split Saganaki and Yellowtail carpaccio. As these dishes suggest, the restaurant draws mostly from Mediterranean influences. Saganaki is a dish we've enjoyed in small seaside restaurants in Greece, yet never once found elsewhere (although perhaps we weren't looking hard enough). Still we're pleasantly surprised when we spot it, and are intrigued to see how such a classy establishment handles what is essentially fried cheese.
With incredible grace, is the answer. Considering what the dish is, naturally it sounds heavy and stodgy — yet, it floats delightfully like a feather in our mouth when we taste it. The lemon puree that accompanies it only improves it. The carpaccio is equally tasty, although lives in rather safer territory for fine dining.
For our main course, we share a lobster taglioni, and roasted seabass with an aubergine puree. Like everything throughout the night, the presentation is stunning. Food comes out on matte black plates, a decision that blends well with the restaurant's restrained ambience and lighting.
The taglioni comes topped with a lobster head, a stylish way of presenting a relatively simple pasta dish. The word 'simple' isn't meant to be disparaging — the pasta, lobster and cherry tomatoes combine delightfully and there's a subtle peppery flavour that keeps everything ticking along nicely. The seabass, too, looks gorgeous, and it's cooked to perfection. However we expected a little more from the aubergine puree — some of the vegetable's nuance seems lost in its translation to semi-liquid form.
Desserts continue the evening's attention to detail. Chocolate cookies semifreddo come with perhaps the best caramel sauce ever tasted — it's sweet without being sickly, a fine line to tread. The marble three chocolate mousse perhaps overdoes it on the sugar ever so slightly, but still delivers, especially when blended with the butter biscuits it's served with.
Onima is the perfect place for a special night out. Delicious food, immensely lovely waiting staff and trendy decor. Just remember this is Mayfair, so don't expect it to come cheap.
Onima, 1-3 Avery Row, W1K 4AJ.
Last Updated 19 December 2018