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Restaurant Review: Zima, Soho in London

By Georgie Bentley-Buckle on 9th June 2016

I love Soho – with its global level of edible offerings from Japanese to African, traditional British pub grub and now Zima, a Russian Street food restaurant which opened in March. The mastermind behind this new establishment on Frith Street is Alexei Zimin who has created a menu featuring a collection of signature Russian dishes and vodka infusions. A highly respected name in Russia, Zimin has built up his career over the years as a writer, chef and TV presenter. As a recent restaurateur, Zimin has also been credited with changing the perspective and educating the wider world on how and what Russians eat. His tailored menu puts the finishing touches to the more delicious dishes, all based around classic recipes from his Russian homeland.

zima in soho london
Zima, a Russian street food bar and kitchen, opened in London’s Soho at the end of March

Seated by the open window, the beat of central Soho beside us, we started with fruity, vodka based cocktails whilst flicking through Zima’s menu; listed in categories of wine snacks & shares, Zakuski (cold starters), soup, hot dishes, vegetables and desserts. Our fittingly Russian waitress explained to us the menu highlighted signature dishes across this vast and largely uncharted country. From the wine snacks and shares – Russian Oscietra Caviar is served with new potatoes, sour cream, chives and brioche; a mix of savoury from the fish to the sweet bread to start. This was different but enjoyable, with another cheaper option with an alternative of salmon roe. Cold starters include their Zima fish platter of herring & cod liver salad with balsamic beetroot, or lemon and rosemary cured pork belly. A classic Russian salad was to be compared to coleslaw and is something I would order again. The venison and beef tartar with new potatoes was light, fresh and tasty.

Soup listing is of just one: the ‘Krasnodar Borsch’ with sour cream; a Russian favourite. Looking back this is intriguing but sadly was skipped. Apparently their most favoured hot dish is slow cooked lamb tongue. This, with buckwheat, oyster mushrooms, horseradish, garlic and tomato sauce, is proudly listed at the top of the menu. The small dishes allowed us to share our hot dishes of juniper and rosemary cured salmon with aubergine caviar and cos lettuce with short rib stroganoff, with tiny ceps and crushed new potatoes. For vegetables a small dish of courgettes, cherry tomatoes and sour cream; ideal alongside any of the hot dishes. As well as our cocktails, and adding a Russian kick; Zima’s strawberry and basil infused vodka. Another daring option was infused with horseradish, our waitress insisted it was delicious; not for the fainthearted!

food at zima in shoho london
Zima is a new venture from Russian chef Alexei Zimin that combines Russian street food and drink in a kitsch speakeasy-style atmosphere

With a late licence until 1am, Zima fits the bill for its location. A quick lunch, a lengthy dinner or a late night cocktail, it has introduced and enlightened authentic Russian delicacies to London. A creative element, the Russian restaurant will also be hosting a regular programme of events, from poetry readings and hands on cookery classes to film screenings. With an aim to seal itself as one of Soho’s most innovative gastronomic, cultural and social hubs, also included within the townhouse is a hidden outdoor terrace which they are promoting as the perfect spot for al fresco summer dining. This area, along with the rest of Zima, is available to hire for private events. Since opening earlier this year Zima has tickled ‘Sohoites’ with the little known delicacies of Russian street food and the very best of homemade vodka infusions into the mix of Soho’s endless options. They open Tuesday to Saturday from 12 noon until 1am. Reservations for lunch and dinner will be accepted for the ground floor and first floor restaurants.

Address: 45 Frith St, London W1D 4SD, 020 7494 9111, zima.bar