Zima: Modern Russian Food in Soho

The nights are really drawing in now and last week I was struggling with The Annual Cold. However, life goes on and there’s been a lot to sort out before Mark and I leave for our big trip next week (I’m so excited I can’t even describe!). We met at Stanford’s in Covent Garden for a planning sesh, and afterwards Mark wanted to take me to Zima for dinner.

If there’s three things I’m looking for in a restaurant in November, it’s heartiness, coziness, and of course deliciousness. Zima, a restaurant on Frith Street serving Russian cuisine with a modern edge, delivers on every single one.

Walking in, we were led to the upper floor where I was immediately struck by the décor. Lining the walls were 19th Century and early 20th Century wooden panels, spinning wheels, and sledges intricately decorated with folk art. The stunning antique homewares being exhibited in the restaurant makes the ambience cozy yet touched with a little luxury, artistic yet simple. We soaked it all up while we perused the menu. Once we had ordered, they brought out some lovely breads on a lovely little raised board.

An absolute must if you eat at Zima is the Borsch Krasnodarsky with beef, the traditional beetroot soup served with a side of soured cream. It’s packed with flavour and depth from the earthy beetroot and rich meat, and when you plop a spoonful of soured cream into it the slightly salty edge is rounded off and the result is truly delicious. It served as the perfect comfort food for me in my time of need!

We ordered a side of “herring under a fur coat” which, if you like the idea of layering herring with a potato salad (and I really do), is brilliant. I was really impressed when this little pot of colourful salad arrived with those micro herbs, dots of mayonnaise and egg garnish. I don’t know why I haven’t come across this sooner!

To follow our soup, we had a course of Pelmeni, Russian dumplings, with three types of meat. The platter arrived with a generous portion of around 8 or 9 dumplings, a pot of hot stock, and some more soured cream. The dumplings had a great texture at the perfect intersection of soft and firm, and the flavour was once again lifted and rounded by the addition of soured cream

Zima is the perfect place for the ultimate November evening food (plus a bit of people watching looking out over the Stage Door of the Prince Edward Theatre where actors and theatre staff come out to have a quick cigarette). Each dish on the surface sounds simple and hearty, but the little touches then make a huge difference to the end result, creating a really lovely experience.

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