21 Blandford Street, W1
WHAT AND WHERE? A cosy, cushion-filled spot in Marylebone that feels more like your nan’s kitchen than a neighbourhood fusion cafe. Jikoni actually means ‘kitchen’ in Swahili and the food reflects the culinary influences of its founder, the food writer-turned-restaurateur Ravinder Bhogal, who was born in Kenya to Indian parents, but grew up in London.
WHAT’S THE DEAL? The Community Lunch is served up like a traditional Indian thali, a sort of platter that showcases one curried main dish, a couple of sides and bread to mop the whole thing up. Jikoni’s menu is £12, with £1 from every order going to Marylebone Food Cycle to alleviate food poverty in the nearby Lisson Green Estate and The Felix Project to tackle food waste.
BUT WHAT’S ACTUALLY IN IT? The menu changes daily depending on what the kitchen’s ordered in. The day I went there was a smokey methi chicken, homemade potato and onion bhajis, a highly unusual roe raita and two herb-packed dosa. Expertly spiced and sensibly portioned, it’s flavoursome but won’t make you pant and sweat in front of a client, and speedy enough that you can be back at your desk feeling perky and comfortably full in an hour.
IS ANYTHING WORTH GOING OFF MENU? Starters, desserts and drinks aren’t included, but if you’re going to add anything, make sure it’s the prawn toast scotch eggs. The banana ‘ketchup’ on the side is unremarkable, but the egg, lightly fried with a fiery kick, is a thing of beauty. Order at least two.
NEED TO BOOK? You’ll be fine to walk up for a weekday lunch, but booking is strongly advised in the evening. Call 02070341988 or visit jikonilondon.com.
ROOM FOR DESSERT? Banana cake with Ovaltine ice cream and miso butterscotch sauce is sticky toffee pudding but better, while the not-too-fragrant strawberry and rose roulade is a delicate alternative.