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Onima

1-3 Avery Row, London, W1K 4AJ, United Kingdom

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This Mediterranean restaurant opened in November 2018, spread over two floors of a five-storey town house in Mayfair’s Avery Row. The head chef is Carmelo Carnevale, originally from Sicily and who was formerly head chef at nearby Novikov Italian. Before thishe had gained a Michelin star for the now closed Semplice.  The name “Onima” means “the name” in Greek, so perhaps the Greek owner wants to make a name for himself. The dining room was large and smartly decorated. At night the lighting starts low and is then dimmed to the sort of level you might expect at a satanic ritual; reading the menu in this light is only an option if you happen to be a bird of prey. The menu encompasses Italian and Greek dishes, but there are also Asian touches in places. Pricing is ambitious, with starters £14 to £24, pasta £19 to £45, main courses £22 to £32, side dishes at £6 and desserts at £9. Additionally there were some entertainly priced specials from the Josper grill, such as roasted langoustines (£36) and wagyu beef of undefined origin at £120 for a 180 g ribeye steak.

The wine list references such as Olifantsberg Breedekloof 2016 at £45 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £15, Donna Olimpia 1989 Bolgheri Bianco 2012 at £69 compared to its retail price of £22, and Gaia Wild Ferment Assyrtiko 2017 at £85 for a wine that will set you back £24 in the high street. For those with the means there was Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 at £390 compared to its retail price of £151, and Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Quinterelli 2007 at £690 for a wine whose current market value is £276.

At dinner I started with Greek spinach pie with pine nuts, which had delicate pastry and good quality spinach with ricotta cheese in place of the traditional feta (14/20). An Asian dish was tempura prawns with Asian chilli sauce. This wouldn’t compete well with a top tempura place in Tokyo, but the batter was light enough, and the prawns were nicely cooked. The sauce was fairly well balanced and didn’t overwhelm the shellfish (14/20). 

I particularly enjoyed a cacio e pepe, the pasta having excellent texture, the Romano Pecorino cheese melted into a sauce coating the pasta, the dish having a suitably peppery bite (15/20).  Sea bass was roasted and served with aubergine puree and sautéed Italian chicory. The fish was accurately cooked and had nicely crisp skin. This went well with the slight bitterness of the chicory, the aubergine puree smooth, the seasoning quite bold, which I didn’t mind but some might find too salty (14/20). 

Baklava with pistachio was made in house and was pleasant though not the very best I have tried (13/20). Deconstructed tiramisu looked artistic, with coffee cream piped on sponge fingers, with coffee ice cream on the side, but I think I prefer the traditional version (13/20). Coffee was from Drury and was nice.The bill came to £111 each with one of the cheaper bottles of wine, the very enjoyable Meerlust Rubicon 2013. This is not a cheap restaurant, and it would be hard to dine here and spend less than about £95 a head; it would be very easy to spend much more than this. Service was initially attentive, though in this distinctly quiet Tuesday night, with eight waiting staff attending just over a dozen diners in total, they still didn’t quite manage to top up my wine. 

At an earlier lunch mushroom risotto using carnaroli rice was well made and given a luxurious twist by the addition of grated white truffles. Slow-cooked rabbit with green olive and capers avoided the dryness that can afflict rabbit dishes so easily, and had plenty of flavour (15/20). Less good was a crab and caviar salad with much too sharp a dressing of yuzu and truffle (12/20). I also tasted a pleasant beef tartare with ponzu sauce (13/20) and a quite tender octopus dish with salsa, cooked on a Josper grill (13/20). 

Onima has a very capable chef and certainly looks the part. The main issue for me is the pricing, which is pretty stiff even by Mayfair standards.

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