I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Georgia, in Southwestern Asia and have wonderful memories of their food and wine. So I was delighted to find this little gem of a Georgian restaurant, Kinkally, in London’s Fitzrovia neighbourhood.
It is named, playfully, after the Georgian khinkally dumpling, but the “h” is dropped so it can be read as Kink Ally. The name of their bar – Kinky – extends the idea further.
Kinkally restaurant is a smallish space that has been arranged well. The restaurant on the ground floor has a handful of tables and a space at the rear where diners prop up the counter while watching chefs plate up the food.
Bar Kinky in the basement bathes in a red glow dispersed from red lamps where mixologists make cocktail concoction a lot of fun. It’s intimate too with just a handful of stools around the bar where the ‘audience” watch as the maestros measure and pour their drinks. There are interesting choices such as the Nature (bourbon, porcini mushrooms, honey) and my favourite, the sweetish Bossy (El Rayo, pata, orange, cacao, hazelnut, buerre noisette laced in svanetian salt).
Food and Wine
The menu is a series of small plates from restaurateur Diana Militski who fell in love with Georgia after dozens of visits. I totally empathise with her.
She recruited Chef David Chelidze, who was born in Batumi, Georgia’s second largest city. He made a name for himself in Moscow, the Russian capital and has now brought his expertise to this stylish restaurant on Charlotte Street. He offers up inventive small plates and khinkall which are chubby parcels of ruffled dough that braids into a sort of twist at the top. Inside the parcel is a generous dollop of meat or seafood or perhaps something vegetarian.
On the menu are their suggestions of Georgian wines as good pairings for their gourmet offerings.
Small plates for the table
The small plates are, they say, inspired by “Georgia’s ancient food culture with contemporary minimalism”. The Gurian-style beetroot with wild mint takes 36 hours to prepare in a process of placing it in the oven and out again to rest to make it just so. This dish was wildly delicious and I certainly was transported to another age.
I liked the smooth rabbit pate and its sharp citrussy tang courtesy of the quince. The zucchini pkhali had a certain spice mixed with tangy flavours of the cornelian cherry dogwood and earthiness of walnuts, and the baked aubergine whose spice was tempered by the vanilla matsoni.
These dishes were paired with a dry, appley Didimi, Krakhuna, Imereti, 2021 wine which went well with the spicy and sometimes mouthwatering nature of these plates.
We started with two khinkalli: langoustines, terragon and matsoni, another with mussels and limoncello and finally, a lamb khinkalli.
These were matched with va elvety, dry orange wine Shota Lagazidz, Rkatsiteli, Kakheti 2020. The wine is aged for 6 months on the skins creating a stern tannic structure discerned on the palate.
Finally, we enjoyed wagyu with peppercorn plum sauce and svanetian salt khinkalli and a lamb khinkalli which we washed down an organic fragrant and light red, Nicolas Antadze, Saperavi Kakheti, 2021. A stylish wine aged for 10 months.
VERDICT: For something entirely different, Georgian cuisine offers and off-the-beaten path to culinary adventure. This is gourmet hearty food with plenty of inventive playfulness in the pairing of ingredients that may just tickle your palate.
Kinkally, 43 Charlotte St, W1T 1RS