Lucy Self heads up to the fifth floor at Harvey Nics to neck cocktails and Japanese small plates Kurobuta-style.
You’ve probably heard of Scott Hallsworth by now. Aussie fella, known on the London restaurant scene for his dazzling jump from Nobu to his own joint Kurobuta which takes the words ‘Japanese’ and ‘tapas’ and does all kinds of sexy and inappropriate things to them.
So sexy in fact, that in the past few years Hallsworth has opened three incarnations of Kurobuta, the most current in the form of a Harvey Nichols residency.
Located on the same floor as the department stores’ famed food court, Kurobuta is tucked away in a dimly lit corner and behind its own door. These details were crucial to the enjoyment of our lunch which took place somewhere between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when the place was heaving with wide-eyed bargain hunters high on festive sale endorphins. Thankfully, once you step into Kurobuta’s inky interior, with cosseting booths overlooking Knightsbridge and surely the friendliest servers in London, the frenetic dash from entrance-to-lift-to-restaurant avoiding anyone with a shopping bag, is instantly forgotten.
It being past 12pm and ‘that’ time of year, we kicked things off with a round of cocktails which quickly turned into two (forgot to take notes but one was bright green, one was frothy, one had lychee in it and they all tasted utterly fabulous).
Then, at the encouragement of our extremely agreeable (read: good looking) waiter, we ordered small plates from every section of the menu.
First a ‘snack’ of char-crossed edamame elevated far beyond the usual standard with the addition of shedloads of butter and sake. Then a slow-cooked octopus dish with green olives and basil which was weird but good, and impossible to stop eating. One of Hallsworth’s signatures – a tuna sashimi pizza – is more of a taco but that doesn’t stop it being brilliant. And chicken wings with K—O! sauce, which didn’t deserve the ‘!’ as they weren’t nearly spicy enough but were hoovered up nonetheless.
Then another dish seen across Kurobuta’s menus, crisp tempura of baby shrimp on a bed of crackly fried noodles and strewn with a bright spiced mayo and a sweet slick of ponzu. Followed by two remarkable cutlets of lamb, the pink fleshy smoky with tea and outrageous when dipped into the miso-rich dip they sat on.
Finally, at the waiter’s cheerful insistence, a special sushi of wagu which was, unseasonably, by far the most favourite thing I put in my mouth during the festive season. And another signature, Kombu roasted Chilean Seabass, which was so good we accidently ate the seaweed it was served on (our waiter assured us he made the same mistake). We couldn’t fit in pudding.
But if you order less than us, we loved the sound of the honey ice cream, with honey crunch, pistachio cake & Japanese Suntory Jelly, the Lavender Apple Pie and just about every other sweet offering on the list.
I was going to bang on about this being the perfect spot when you run out January sale steam (which is true). But as I never go to department stores (fear of crowds and expensive things), the highest praise I can think of giving Kurobuta at Harvey Nichols is that I would brave the hoards, happily, to eat that lunch again.