What Fulham has needed for some time now is an independent restaurant that is charming, tasty and affordable. Finally, with the arrival of Manuka Kitchen, it has just that.
Manuka is the name of a native New Zealand tree that is now famous for producing honey with high naturally occurring antibiotics. Manuka Kitchen is a European Brasserie and the passion-child of Tyler, a kiwi chef, and Joseph, his business partner, who has worked in high end hotels and restaurants for the past 15 years. This restaurant is a labour of love from start to finish. The boys have done everything from choosing the light fittings to painting the walls. They are there every day and while Tyler cooks Joseph serves and hosts.
You cannot help but become immersed in their genuine desire to have people love the place, with attentive personal service and a very relaxed, almost home-style atmosphere. The tables are rustic and simple wood with little candles blinking away on each one. The restaurant only seats about 20, which makes for a cozy, intimate setting.
House-baked complimentary foccacia bread turns up at your table while it is still warm, and is best smothered in the salted butter that accompanies it. The Veal Meatballs with tomato sauce were delicious, not too ‘meaty’ tasting as so many meatballs are, and topped with a little parmesan cheese. Crispy Squid was perfectly crispy but soft in the middle. The nam jim sauce accompanying was a little too intense for me without the kick I was hoping for, but nonetheless this was a starter that was well done.
The Rabbit, Venison sausage and thyme Rigatoni was a moderate portion for a pasta main, but at £10.00 who can complain? My market fish with orange vegetables and samphire aoli was truly delicious and cooked perfectly. The orange sauce was glorious with the fish, albeit a little too rich for my palate.
A huge round of applause please for a Bistro that serves excellent wine at excellent prices. Only a short list is on offer but when it encompasses such fine choices it only serves to make my job easier in selection New Zealand features heavily on the wine list, and the Momo Pinot Noir at £23.50 a bottle is not only entirely affordable, but far too easy to drink! The Seresin Organic Sauvignon would be my choice of white at £22.50, or just head straight for party with Tattinger Champagne at £36.
Joseph was eager for us to try the Seresin with our crispy squid starter as it was a better food-match than the pinot, so he poured two little glasses for us to enjoy. There is nothing more inspiring in hospitality than a little generosity and a genuine passion for presenting fine wine and tasty food to happy customers.
Tyler and Joseph’s Manuka Kitchen deserves to be busy, and I have no doubt that this new bistro will thrive. Note that it is a cash-only establishment at present. There are many more items on their menu I would be eager to sample so I, for one, will be back to support this adorable little local.
Manuka Kitchen510 Fulham Road, SW65NJ email@example.com 02073849774 10:00am-11:00pm Tuesday to Sunday