If you love fun, flamboyance and fantastic food, it’s time to book a table at Zuaya London in Kensington, says Sophie Ritchie
Walking into Zuaya, it’s impossible not to notice the clever meets creative decor. For a start, there’s the unmissable ceiling – a jungle of wild greenery covers the entire space, whilst the exotic atmosphere is enhanced with the addition of floor-to-ceiling mirrors that elongate the upstairs space with reflective magic.
Downstairs is much bigger in comparison, a sultrier space decked out with pieces of far-flung decor, flamingo motifs and cozy tables dotted throughout. Decadent and designed to be devoured, the lingering sense of Latin American passion can be found in every nook and cranny as I peer around on my way to the bathrooms.
Of course, we’re here for the dining and not decor alone – but I can’t help but look around with fervent eyes as it is an enchantingly unique space, especially as we’re in the middle of Kensington High Street.
The Food & Drink
Designed to offer its guests an oasis of Latin American cuisine in the middle of one of London’s suavest areas, Zuaya features a menu of Brazilian, Peruvian & Mexican tapas and exciting tipples.
We start with two signature Black Forest (£13.50) cocktails, a delicious sip of Tequila, Wild berries, Apple, Lychee, Grenadine, Lime, topped with a few blackberries for added measure. It’s got enough kick to wake me up but the sweet fruit masks any tartness. I also love that’s served in a fun tiki glass, adding to the exotic experience.
On the foodie front, it’s a chef selection of specialities rather than ordering off the menu. After checking our dietary requirements (and one small attempt to add some signature Zuaya meat into the mix after finding out we’re both pescatarian) our tapas-filled feast begins.
We start with Tuna Tacos (each £5.75), which are an immediate hit composed of fresh and juicy cubes of tuna juxtaposed with the silky flour tortilla. We also share a bowl of sweet potato crisps and mountain of creamy guacamole (£7.75), which I dive into with the enthusiasm of an Olympic swimmer.
Arriving swiftly to the table soon after, a plate of Garlic Prawns with Lime & Chilli (£16.50), a bowl of Patatas Bravas (£6.50) and an exciting new menu item – sea bass with peppers and a tangy sauce. The prawns are especially good, gliding out of their shells doused in lime and chilli for added fire.
A typically Latin American dish intended for sharing with friends and family, it seems fitting to share the patatas bravas mountain with my friend as we catch up over bites of the crispy potatoes. Our host warns us that they might be too spicy, but honestly I don’t taste too much power in the golden sauce.
Ready to throw myself back into the dating pool (or pond, considering what dating apps can drag up these days) after the trials and tribulations of lockdown, I can’t help but consider what an excellent date spot Zuaya makes – low lighting, cool interiors, quiet enough to chat – it’s no surprise to see plenty of couples here and I even spot one guest handing a gorgeous bouquet of roses to the manager prior to his lucky guest’s arrival.
But, for all of its swoon-worthy qualities, it’s also family-friendly. There’s a table right next to me with several little guests, who are all impeccably behaved (one might argue even better than me as I accidentally drop guac on the table, twice).
Now completely full with the tapas parade, we pass on dessert and finish things off with two large Espresso Martinis (£14), which are fabulously frothy and served in beautiful rose gold goblets. Deliciously smooth and crafted with a caffeinated concoction of Vodka, Khalúa, Coffee and Vanilla syrup, it’s a great way to sit back and sip the evening away before it’s time to head home to rainy reality.
The Wordrobe Verdict
The food at Zuaya is rich and decadent, with just enough zing and kick to wake my tastebuds up after a long lockdown slumber. An excellent dining spot for families, friends or even first dates, lap up the Latin American lifestyle and tuck into tapas at this superb Kensingston restaurant.
Words by Sophie Ritchie, Editor