There’s always a first time for everything; whether it’s your first pair of trainers, your first smartphone, the first time you saw the Grand Canyon or even your first kiss. The one common factor between all those first time events is the fact that they are mostly unforgettable.
There was an opportunity to notch up another ‘first time’ on my CV recently when I visited the brand new ZIMA Russian Street Food & Bar on 45 Frith Street, Soho, co-founded by chef, food magazine editor and serial entrepreneur, Alexei Zimin.
ZIMA’s location itself is iconic, being situated next to the popular Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho. Everyone knows that Soho is one of the coolest places in London to hang out!
I was in the company of food bloggers Hey! Dip Your Toes In, the couple behind UKBA 2016 award winning blog and Ronke Lawal of Who’s For Dinner to sample Russian cuisine in the heart of London. The event was part of a social media campaign promoting the power of food as a catalyst for cultural awareness and an appreciation for London’s rich cultural diversity.
The food concept behind ZIMA is Russian street food; food that is accessible, easy to prepare and great for sharing. The perfect way to celebrate after an intense gym session some may say. Never having before tried any notable Russian cuisine in the past, I was unsure of what to expect.
For starters, we were presented with a colourful array of home-infused vodkas. The infusions featured interesting ingredients including horseradish, fennel and tarragon, cranberry, bilberry and basil.
If there is such a thing as ‘healthy vodkas’, then we had found the perfect place for them! The first few shots of vodka certainly made an impression, dispelling any notions I may have had of Russian food being boring.
To accompany the vodkas, we sampled tapas-style plates of venison, beef and herring tartar, infused pickles and a modern twist on the classic borsch soup. Our main courses were also presented in tapas style and included short-rib beef stroganoff and potatoes. There was also slow-cooked lamb tongue and buckwheat with an oyster, mushroom, horseradish, garlic tomato sauce, salmon and corn-fed poussin (chicken) plates. Side dishes included potatoes, fenugreek cabbage, cucumber and radish salad.
We rounded off what turned out to be a fun and memorable evening with some traditional Russian pancakes, a round of teas and a quick chat with chef Alexei. Street food is a great way to be introduced to new cuisine, usually in a fun and engaging way. From all indications, ZIMA does this well and in doing so, underscores London’s reputation as a great city for cultural diversity.
First times are always memorable. Even better is when a ‘first time’ becomes a ‘next time’.
p.s To book a table at ZIMA, 45 Frith St London W1D 4SD, call 020 7494 9111. Walk-ins are also accepted