Zima launch: A Russian street food bar opens in Soho
In the basement of a Grade II-listed Soho townhouse, home of the Jean-Jacques bistro, right next door to the legendary Ronnie Scott’s, you’ll be able to enjoy something unlike anything London has seen before. Zima is a totally new concept that combines Russian street food and drink in a kitsch speakeasy atmosphere, and it will open to the public on the 31st of March.
Making it all possible is one of Russia’s most celebrated chef, Alexei Zimin, the man who has literally changed the way Russians eat. Alexei trained at Le Cordon Bleu before working in the kitchens of Michel Guérard, Raymond Blanc and Gordon Ramsay. As well as TV presenting, editing his country’s most celebrated culinary bible, Eda, and launching a hugely successful restaurant and cookery school, Ragout, he has made Russian street food cool again.
On a mission to introduce the world to the amazing tastes and flavours from the former Soviet Union that now has Russia in thrall, Alexei has chosen London as his first port of call.
At his hands, street and gourmet food combine in an array of tapas-style creations featuring classic ingredients from all corners of his vast homeland: sturgeon, herring, scallops, crab, venison and, of course, caviar.
Think of Zima (the Russian word for winter and Alexei’s nickname) as a kind of Russian culinary A to Z. You can eat Kamchatka staple Crab claw with bread crisps and red caviar; black caviar with traditional sides from Yaroslavl; or the Ufa-favourite honey and sour cream cake Medovik.
It’s not just the food that defines Zima. Those looking for a street-cred alternative to designer beers and fancy cocktails can sate their thirst with Russia’s finest beer, Siberian Crown, and, most exciting of all, vodka infusions flavoured with fennel and tarragon; basil and strawberry; and lingonberry and apple with curry leaves, all designed to thrill the most jaded palate.
Zima’s interior is as funky as its food and drink. Think Russian dacha and Soviet-era ryumochnaya (vodka bar) – adorned with slogan – and symbol-embossed propaganda porcelain, mixed in with some contemporary Soho touches. The separate entrance also gives the whole place a feeling of secrecy and discovery.
Bringing Russian street food out of the cold, Zima is one of London’s most intriguing new offerings.
The editorial unit
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Zima, 45 Frith St London W1D 4SD, call 020 7494 9111.