Manuka Kitchen

510 Fulham Road, London, SW6 5NJ, United Kingdom

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This independently owned restaurant, named after an Australasian honey, opened in Fulham in late 2012. Chef Tyler Martin (from New Zealand) and his business partner Joseph Antippa had previously worked together at a hotel before striking out on their own in here. The kitchen is visible from the small dining room that can barely seat two dozen diners; the atmosphere is casual, with tiled floor, white walls and no tablecloths. 

Starters ranged from £5 to £6, main courses £12 to £15.95, side dishes £3 to £3.50 and desserts £4.50 to £5. There was a short wine list with half a dozen whites and reds plus a rose wine and a couple of sparkling options. The list ranged in price from £16.50 to £43, with a median price of £23.50. Domaine des Lauriers Picpoul de Pinet Prestige 2012 was £19.95 for a wine that you can find in the high street for around £9, Seresin Sauvignon Blanc at £25.95 for a wine that retails at £17, and Pol Roger champagne at £43 for a wine that can cost that much in a shop. Bread was a slice of white loaf from The Bread Factory; apparently they make their own bread in the evening, but not at lunch.

Potato gnocchi with endive, confit tomato and basil had decent gnocchi, but the tomato was watery and tasteless. The endive was cooked and so lacked its characteristic bitterness when raw, but had not moved into the slight sweetness that you expect after cooking either, and seasoning seemed absent (10/20). A “saffron arancini” had a bland flavour, lacking seasoning, and the saffron flavour was subtle to the point of invisibility (barely 11/20).

A “spicy prawn style Caesar” was quite a long way from a normal Caesar salad. There were Romaine lettuce and croutons, but after that the resemblance was rather tenuous. There were little pieces of bacon, a poached egg that a barely liquid centre and a sprinkle of Parmesan, plus the prawns. The small prawns had little flavour, and although cooked all right seemed entirely absent of their promised spiciness. This would actually have been welcome, to liven up the flavour a bit (11/20). 

The dessert I ordered was unavailable (as was my first choice of main course) so I went instead for Manuka honey and saffron brulee. The texture of the crème brulee was too firm, and although the honey taste came through, and the saffron flavour seemed to be of homeopathic proportion (11/20).

The bill came to £22 at lunch for head for three courses including service, with just water to drink. At dinner, with a modest bottle of wine to share and coffee, a more realistic bill would be around £45 a head. Perhaps the food is better when the head chef actually puts in an appearance, but although the meal was harmless enough it was resolutely uninspiring.  


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