LDNReview

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Ikoyi image
9.1

Best New Restaurants

2023

Ikoyi

Experimental

Strand

$$$$Perfect For:Impressing Out of TownersSpecial OccasionsCorporate Cards
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Ikoyi isn’t any old finickity, tweezery, foam-happy fine dining restaurant. A three-hour tasting menu at this spot on the Strand ages like the fine wines on their list. Unlike so many fancy dining experiences in London, this isn’t a restaurant that feels like it was made by (and for) people who weren’t given enough hugs at home. Each course draws inspiration from around the world, and every hour gets better. This bronze bunker becomes somewhere you could hunker down in until kingdom come. Simply put, it’s the best fine dining restaurant in London.

Ikoyi’s previous iteration in St James’s quietly proved itself to be one of London’s most singular restaurants for years. This location in the base of 180 The Strand is no different in quality, but the hideaway space feels much more like theirs. The walls gleam bronze, the ceiling is covered by Grand Designs-worthy curved metal sheets, and the terracotta tones give a warmness that you wouldn’t associate with somewhere making pea ice cream. Yes, there are foams and water-refillers, but there’s also the unexpected and overwhelming feeling that you can just hang out at Ikoyi. Well put together diners, all Japanese garments and statement glasses, slide into Ikoyi’s seats like fixtures in an Architectural Digest video while the staff, full of ASMR-sounding menu explanations, coolly let the crowd live out their most relaxed fine dining fantasy.

Ikoyi image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Ikoyi image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Ikoyi image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Ikoyi image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Ikoyi image
Ikoyi image
Ikoyi image
Ikoyi image

Ikoyi’s food is completely unto itself. West African spicing plays a big part, but there is nothing to reasonably compare it to in London. Chicken and mushroom broth has a brilliant, intensely floral squeeze of peppercorn oil, and the signature smoked jollof rice is covered in a luscious umami blanket of lobster custard. Very few restaurants are able to orchestrate a meal as expertly as Ikoyi. Every note of flavour is played at this restaurant until a perfect crescendo of pudding. It knows when to lull and it knows when to up the ante with a tear-inducing pool of brown crab bisque.

Ikoyi image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Ikoyi image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Ikoyi image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Ikoyi image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Ikoyi image
Ikoyi image
Ikoyi image
Ikoyi image

Every masterful performance comes at a price and Ikoyi’s is pretty bolshy. The blind tasting menu lunch is from £180 at lunch and dinner is more at £300. But you probably already know whether you’re willing to spend this much money on a meal and if you want to know whether Ikoyi is worth it, the answer is unequivocally, yes.

Food Rundown

Ikoyi image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Tasting Menu

Seasonality and experimentation is part of Ikoyi’s schtick and, as such, their menu tends to change. But a few things always seem to stick around. Plantain is a mainstay—sitting on a tamarind sauce, topped with peanut brittle, with a dollop of spicy herb sauce on the side. The same goes for their smoked jollof rice. The wheel hasn’t been completely reinvented—it is deeply flavoured, smoky rice—but the addition of a gorgeous crustacean custard takes a classic dish somewhere different and unexpected. You can expect a variety of meat and fish dishes over the course of a meal, from meaty grilled scallops to tender Angus beef. All of them are paired with clever emulsions, butter, bisques, and more—be it charred onion, fizzing pepper, or dehydrated miso. Every plate, down to dessert of pea ice cream with warm ginger cake, is a perfect composition. Traditional it is not, but very little about Ikoyi is.

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