Test Drives

roomA look at the rooms in Kol. Left is the main restaurant with its central kitchen area (you can see that on the left). Top right is the bar of the Mezcaleria and bottom right is the Chef's Table room. 

What can you tell us about Kol?

It's certainly been a much-anticipated restaurant, that's for sure. Originally announced all the way back at the tail-end of 2018, expectation has built for Santiago Lastra's Mexican restaurant. Hailing from Mexico himself, he helped set up Noma Mexico and has already run hugely popular residencies at the London's Carousel. 

His new restaurant takes its cues from Mexican cooking while, for the most part, using local British produce which they've spent the last two years sourcing. It's very much a high-end approach to Mexican dining, but there's still a laid-back vibe at the heart of it. 

Where is the restaurant?

It's about a five-minute walk from Marble Arch station - and almost directly opposite Marylebone stalwart Locanda Locatelli. 

Is there anywhere nearby good for a drink?

Normally we'd say the excellent-looking bar downstairs, The Kol Mezcaleria, should be your first port of call but that was still to open at the time of writing. It's planning to open on 20 November, so if you're heading there after that date, you should definitely try it out. In charge of the bar is Maxim Schulte, previously head bartender at the award-winning American Bar at The Savoy. so this has the potential to be a destination bar all by itself. 

We did try a couple of the cocktails before our meal, however...

roomYes, we had to have the margarita and this one, with its salt and sour dipped rim was particularly good.

Otherwise, the most obvious nearby recommendation is Seymour's Parlour at the near Zettter Townhouse, where you should definitely consider ordering a Nettle Gimlet. 

Where should we sit?

To our mind, the best tables are the pair by the front window, which will inevitably have you wondering what lucky folk live in the gorgeous townhouses opposite. It's also right by the main prep kitchen, which takes over the centre of the room - so you're close to the action (still socially distanced, of course). 

Also highly recommended is the private room/chef's table downstairs. Obviously, the rule of six (at the time of writing) means you can't book the whole place out (unless it's a business lunch, of course) so it's currently split into several tables of four. That aside, it's a great looking room that comes with its own private kitchen - so well worth considering booking if you're after something more intimate. You can see a picture of that at the top of the page. 

What's on the menu?

There are two menus in the evening - a five-course (£55) and six-course (£70) version. They're mostly the same - but with different mains/desserts. There's also a third menu for the chef's table of seven courses (£90) with a completely different menu other than the intro snacks. So there's a fair bit of choice on offer. 

We went with the six-course menu which turned out like this: 

roomThings actually kick off with a seaweed and chili broth - which is perfect as the cold nights arrive. Then there's this pistachio mole, corn crisp and crudités, which even come with tongs so you can create the perfect looking snack.

roomCeviche - kohlrabi, pink mole, pumpkin aguachile, smoked beetroot - something of a palate cleanser before the next course but with a chili kick.

roomTaco - langoustines, smoked chili and sea buckthorn. The head of the langoustine is served so that you can squeeze it over the taco. Definitely next-level tacos, for sure. 

roomTostada - Seared lamb leg, guajillo mayonnaise, wild herbs, corn crisp. Probably our favourite dish of the night. Smash up the tostada and eat with the most beautifully cooked lamb leg. Outstanding. 

roomColoradito - Braised short ribs, quince mole, roasted carrot. The main event, served with corn tacos (kept warm in that leather pouch you see in the back). As you would expect, about the very best that a short rib can be - and we liked the presentation from the chef himself...

roomAnd the finished construction. The addition of the tiny roasted carrots really worked. 

roomChocolate steam cake, corn husk ice cream, sea buckthorn - the cake arrives baked inside a little parcel. Paired with Mezcal. 

roomThe cake removed from its confinement. The chocolate is one of the few ingredients they import to Kol and the quality comes through in the cake - somehow chocolate reconstructed into cake form, given its intensity of flavour.  

And for vegetarians?

There is a separate vegetarian menu available on request. Changes to the above include the tostada which becomes "Wild mushrooms, guajillo mayonnaise, wild herb salad, corn" and the main becomes Tikin Xic - roasted Spidskal, achiote, cabbage purée, red onion xnipec and shimeji.

What about drinks?

The wine list has a focus on biodynamic wines from Central and Eastern Europe, with their house wine made by Slovakian winemakers Slobodne - that's a 1 Litre, La Pera 2018 Sauvignon Blanc for £56. It's not the entry wine into the list though, which is a Vins Suñer, Macabeu 2019 at £32. We actually took the wine flight which we'd definitely recommend (£45 for the five-course, £60 for the six-course). Highlights were Slobodne's El Melon and we have to appreciate any wine pairing that ends with a shot of mezcal.  

Overall thoughts 

The wait for Kol has proven very worthwhile. It's another indication of how Mexican food in London has transformed over the past few years - and this is another truly unique offering. It's a great looking restaurant, there's a buzzy vibe throughout the whole room and we loved the food. Add in the prospect of a great bar downstairs and it's a very welcome addition to London's dining scene.

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Kol. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 

 

More about Kol

Where is it? 9 Seymour Street, London W1H 5BT

How to book: On their website or call 020 3829 6888.

Find out moreVisit their website and follow them on Instagram @kol.restaurant and Santiago Lastra on Instagram @santiagolas.

 

 

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