It is a testament to Sumosan Twiga’s philosophy – and, particularly, General Manager Federico Bonetti’s impeccable skills – that at no point did I feel uncomfortable. That may seem like damning with so-faint-it’s-pretty-damned-transparent praise, but it’s not meant to because, basically, Sumosan Twiga is defiantly not my kind of place.
As I may have said before – probably dotted somewhere around these very (new, shiny) pages, in fact – me and glamorous are not words that usually sit in the same sentence. Me and thin and beautiful do not go well together. Any time I head to an event that is full of thin and beautiful people, I suspect that at some point I will be asked to leave so they can fit another four, possibly five, thin and beautiful people in. My wardrobe – like me – is built for comfort. The only things that fit me in designer stores are shoes or ties.
And yet… here I am at Sumosan Twiga, one of the most glamourous dining rooms I’ve seen for a while, a place where all of its closest neighbours are designer stores, a place that absolutely screams Sloane Street. And I’m having a brilliant time. Even when a family wanders in, each one wearing an outfit that’s worth considerably more than my entire wardrobe, I’m having a brilliant time. Even when I see one glance over and imagine their next comment is “goodness daddy, is it a charity evening? They appear to have let a poor person in” I’m still having a brilliant time.
It possibly helps that I have some history with the first part of the name. The old Sumosan, a Mayfair stalwart for several years, was the first place I’d ever tried miso black cod, the scene of my first ah-so-that’s-what-the-fuss-is-about sushi experience, and the location of the first decent tempura I ever sampled, and I wrote about it a few times in assorted publications. My mate Rosalie, who joined me for one of those Mayfair dinners about a decade ago, still talks about her green tea cheesecake in hushed, revered tones and is, therefore, my chosen companion for this return. However, things have changed. Alongside the old Sumosan dishes, there’s now a menu from Twiga – an Italian restaurant that originated in Monaco – and the whole business has relocated a mile or so west. For all the differences, however, the things that made my previous visits so memorable – the staff, the welcome, the quality of the cooking – remain happily intact. And now they’re doing all of that in two cuisines.
Of course, all of this comes at a price – often a quite considerable price – but, for the most part, that’s reflected in the quality of the ingredients and the generosity of the serving. The lobster lollo biondo salad, for example, looks like a plate of sharply (lemon and mustard) dressed lettuce but, upon further exploration, hides a reasonably-sized crustacean’s worth of knockout, tender meat. The rock shrimp tempura is still present and correct, and confirmation that the best frying is not in itself unhealthy: it’s light, crispy, meaty and generous. Wagyu beef tacos are tiny but intense, veal “tonnato” with capers is as rich as… well, the family opposite, probably, and Hamachi tiradito, truffle-topped because, well, they can, is just plain exquisite.
Sushi and sashimi maintain the quality, a spiced scallop roll in particular, although the otoro ticks all the right fatty, melting boxes too. We’re slightly at capacity by that point, but Federico’s silver tongue persuades us that yes, we really should try the rice hotpot with grilled wagyu, onsen egg and sesame chilli. As he mixes it table-side, he discusses the similarities between the dish and the risottos of his homeland, and suddenly the fusing of these menus does not seem quite so odd.
As for the dish, the price tag reflects the pampered protein element but, actually, assuming your Amex card isn’t one of the ebony variety, there’s more than enough should you want to split the dish four ways. More importantly, perhaps, it’s gorgeous, deeply flavoured, and texturally sensuous, and worth every extravagant penny (and the extra notch it may yet require on the belt).
In the absence of the green tea cheesecake – to the disappointment of the person to my left – we split the regular white chocolate and yuzu cheesecake and it’s a delight, that zing of the fruit counteracting the obvious sweetness. It’s not the green tea but it’ll do, is the basic verdict.
Cocktails are well executed, the wine list has some well-priced glasses and, hey, everyone deserves a little bit of chic glamour every now and again right? Even me.
165 Sloane Street