Manuka Kitchen, 510 Fulham Road, London SW6

 

As foodies and health neurotics will tell you, manuka is a kind of super-honey, honey with magical healing properties. There was a buzz of excitement about it four years ago, when it was claimed that its antiviral and antibacterial wonderfulness meant it can heal flesh wounds: when you've finished spreading it on your toast you can smear it on your hurt finger. It comes from a single source – the bees that pollinate manuka trees in New Zealand's East Cape region – and costs a bloody fortune.

At Manuka Kitchen, I expected to see the stuff all over the menu. But apart from a single appearance on the crème brûlée, manuka honey doesn't feature at all. The owners seem to have chosen the name simply to suggest a) Kiwi influences in the kitchen, b) some healing effects and c) a hefty outlay of money. The chef, Tyler Martin, is indeed a Kiwi, from New Plymouth on the north island, and the restaurant that he and his Lebanese business partner, Joseph Antippa, have just opened does bring balm to the soul – but without it costing the earth.

It's situated in Fulham, close to Stamford Bridge FC: excellent, of course, for the passing trade on Saturday afternoons when Chelsea are playing at home, although Tyler's rabbit-and-venison-sausage rigatoni is unlikely to attract rank-and-file football fans. Maybe just as well since they have only 22 covers. The décor is minimal: tiny wood tables, terracotta tiles, plain white walls with dangling green lamps. You can see into the kitchen, which is the same size as the dining area and isn't a pretty sight: dirty white tiles, messy sink, too much greasy realism. But Tyler and Joseph are on a tight budget. They've opened their restaurant with their own funds and without bank or City loans, so the 'minimalism' and grubbiness aren't style choices but the product of financial necessity.

The menu, by contrast, radiates richness. There are All-Day plates (corn fritters with bacon and cream, fabulous eggs Benedict, tortilla with goat's cheese) and cheap Hot Rolls (meatballs with cheddar and jalapenos, 'steak sarnie', roasted pork with pickles and red cabbage, all £5 or £6) and Small and Large sharing plates, served with artistry and style. Bone marrow and saffron arancini are a beautiful sight, the risotto rice subtly flavourful, the crumb-coating miraculously light. Crispy squid came with nam jim sauce, a name that's fatally redolent of pyjamas but tastes delicious – a blend of soy and Thai nam pla with lime, chilli, garlic and ginger, that floods the squid flesh and legs with Pacific rim flavours. Steamed mussels with tomato and sweet potato were handsomely presented in a dramatic black iron skillet; a nice change from the usual mountain of shells, and the liquid's good enough to dip your bread in.

Mussels turned up again in Angie's main-course chicken breast with curry potato, cucumber and lettuce – an odd, unseasonal dish that just about came off. Chicken with mussels isn't an obvious combination (surf and farmyard?) but the salty brininess of the shellfish gave the nicely cooked poultry a touch of excitement. I had an array of beef, done three ways. I've seen a trio of pork, I'm frankly over-familiar with the troika of lamb (rump, shoulder and sweetbreads) but beef? This dish offered a standard sirloin, with beef tartare and a beef croquette, served with Parmentier potatoes. The steak was fabulous, medium-rare, broiled to perfection, juicy. The croquette was a complicated piece of cheffy showing-off: brisket, roasted for four hours, then shredded, rolled with a mirepoix, wrapped in clingfilm until it sets, then re-cooked and sliced. It was very tasty, but seemed a lot of trouble to go to just to be eclipsed by the steak. The tiny beef tartare was tepid and unexciting, like the underfed runt of a meaty family.

Puddings were complex and beautiful objets d'art. Raspberry Lamington was a Victoria sponge dusted with coconut and mostly overwhelmed by raspberry coulis. A slice of pavlova came with passionfruit sauce that cut through the meringue and bore the tastebuds off in triumph. It seemed rude not to try the manuka honey and saffron crème brûlée. I'm sorry to report, after all the anticipation, that it was frighteningly sweet and didn't do much for the crème brûlée. Another time I'll grab the blue-cheese-and-honeycomb option.

The service was warm and friendly throughout, the joint owners chatted like loquacious neighbours and supper passed in a convivial glow; so it was rather a pain to be told that the restaurant didn't take plastic cards, only cash, and I had to venture out into the freezing night in search of a cashpoint. This annoyance will be addressed soon, the owners say. It's a small black mark for this attractive and flavoursome addition to the gastroscape. As with the décor and the look of the kitchen, it needs just a small injection of money to make it bonzer.

Manuka Kitchen, 510 Fulham Road, London SW6 (020-7736 7588). Around £80 for two with wine

Food ***
Ambience **
Service ***

Tipping policy: "No service charge. All tips go to the staff"

Side orders: Sharing plates

Zoilo

The sharing plates at Marylebone's new hit restaurant focus on regional Argentina; try the grilled octopus and leeks, with potato and tuna mayo.

9 Duke Street, London W1 (020-7486 9699)

The Glad Café

The mixed sharing platter at this popular music venue consists of pork terrine, piccalilli, Serrano ham, maple and pomegranate dressing and goat's cheese.

1006a Pollokshaws Road, Shawlands, Glasgow (0141 636 6119)

Flinty Red

Customers are encouraged to share a dishes at this award-winning restaurant – try the pickled herrings with rhubarb and orange juice.

34 Cotham Hill, Bristol (0117 923 8755)

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Web Developer / Software Developer

    £25 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Software Developer is needed ...

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone