The welcome: Aside from the food, the biggest switch up is the style of service, which is attentive. Waiters are instructed to refill drinks and dishes are explained. The latter works, because Londoners aren't familiar with the type of food Anzu serves, yet there is too much of a push to formalise this experience in a restaurant setting that ultimately doesn't have the grandeur - nor the type of food - to justify it.
The space: The restaurant is one part of the St James's Market development, a pleasant if anonymous-feeling new restaurant hub. Credit where credit's due, there is a lack of destination dining in the area, which could do with - and now has got - a discernible foodie hub. But the Market feels cold and aimed at corporates in the way the Bankside group of restaurants does. From the outside, Anzu and its restaurant neighbour Veneta are indistinguishable: like the foyers of office buildings, their statement floor-to-ceiling glass windows are pleasant but predictable and inside the relatively small number of covers feel at odds with the large, opulent atmosphere they're trying to create.
Food and drink: When a restaurant controls the order of food restaurant-goers eat, it's decadent to offer tasting menus of luxurious and delicious treats to look forward to. The Teishoku, however, is way more practical than it is exciting, which is its let-down. A teishoku is a main dish that comes with pickles, miso soup and steamed rice, a hardly titillating new foodie formula, and not worth the very steep price point (the vegetable Teishoku is £15 and the Japanese equivalent of a grill, the mix katsu with king prawn, pork and cod is £24). For an extra whack (£6) you can add seafood to your steamed rice.
The quality of the meat is high, but unremarkably presented, though a starter of chicken karaage was a highlight, where perfectly moist chicken smacked of flavour. King prawn gyoza are carefully handmade though overpriced at £9.50, and purely for its name we order the Furofuki Daikon with Yuzu Miso, which was essentially a soggy radish in an unmemorable broth. Cocktails are fine, and the wine list is the most reasonably priced - we had a punchy bottle of Marche for £24.
Would we return: A "Japanese brasserie" sounds enticing but the food concept simply doesn't fly and is overpriced in this new eatery that feels indistinguishable, despite its bid for uniqueness. It's a shame, because we love Tonkotsu, but nothing here feels anything like as honest as that little chain that keeps on getting our love.
|What||Anzu restaurant review|
St James's Market
SW1Y 4SB | MAP