Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences Opens New Restaurant Kona
Having an affair? Starting an assignation? Then Kona is your destination. Extremely discreetly hidden within one of the Victorian townhouses of the five-star Taj Hotel in Buckingham Place, its setting couldn’t be more spectacular yet peaceful, despite being minutes from Victoria.
Taking its name from Sanskrit meaning ‘corner’, Kona is not indian cuisine. Rather, executive chef David Tilly designs intensely flavoured dishes influenced by the cooking of Liguria and the Côte d’Azur. Trust the Taj Hotel group, one of the first hotels of India to compete on a world-class level at its inception in 1901, to create such a tasty space. The overall design of Kona is precise but laid back and peaceful. You know things have been thought out when the water carafe on the table fits its silver tray exactly. For those of us who like things to work as they should, this is a good sign.
Literally a hidden gem genuinely hard to find until the special sign was erected, Kona is worth seeking. You’ll be distracted at first by St James’ amazing glazed and red brick courtyard, its stunning landscaping and impressive fountain. But carry on to the glamorous Falconer entrance at the corner end of the terrace on your right. There, Kona’s calm, cooling grey and azure decor, complete with candles and tiny bundles of hydrangeas, will instantly lighten your mood. Enhance that further by ordering a perfectly cold glass of Lauren Perrier Ultra Brut served in a linear crystal flute.
Our waiter Giorgio explains that two starters are suggested if going with a smaller main, or one if you’re headed for the larger portions of the grilled meats. Along with some impressive amuse-bouches such as aranchini with saffron cream, the starters are perky numbers like red tuna with anchovies, celeriac soup with green apple, black truffle and hazelnut (very sexy). Portions are modern (not haut-tiny) with incredible bursts of flavour. Gloucestershire Old Spot Pork Belly and Cotswold Lamb Cannon were exquisitely tender generous servings of fine meat, none of which come from further than 127 miles away. Lamb bologesem polenta and wild rocket pesto was sensationally tasty and a good choice for those of small appetite (i.e. watching your calories). Even the salted English butter, sourced from Gloucestershire like the poultry, tastes like an astonishing treat. Vegetarians will find good things to eat amidst the meat: a chickpea panisse and goat’s curd with charred vegetables for a starter are good selections. A sommelier in training, Giorgio showed us the small but useful list of fine wines from which we chose a beautiful light La Fleurie 2013 burgundy and a beautiful blackberry-laden Chateau de Ricard 2011 claret. Desserts are equally good and not too filling – the apple pudding with raspberry “dots” and ice cream is particularly nice.
It’s hard to talk about Kona without talking about its version of haute cuisine comfort food, but the venue itself is a destination, with a library and overstuffed chairs only in the next room. This is the place to hide away and enjoy yourself without prying eyes – whether that’s a business meeting, a need for quiet or to bask in the presence of your very own husband (rather than someone else’s). A beautiful venue, with beautiful food and careful, exceptional service means eating at Kona is a lot like being in love. Apparently they also serve wonderful breakfasts and golden high tea, but you have to keep something for the honeymoon…
Visit www.taj51buckinghamgate.co.uk for details or call +44 20 7963 8391 for reservations.