For my birthday, my husband treated me to lunch at Michelin starred The Ninth on Charlotte Street. I won’t lie… despite thinking of myself as a bit of a foodie, I’d never heard of it! And it’s been open for a few years….
The Ninth is chef Jun Tanaka’s first solo restaurant. Jun has worked at top London restaurants, such as Le Gavroche and The Square (both of which I’ve been to) and has featured on TV and in a few episodes of Masterchef the Professionals.
The decor is stunning, with low lighting, exposed brick walls and copper tones. There is some outdoor seating for when the weather is good as well as counter seating inside if you prefer to eat at the bar. There’s not a lot of tables inside so it gives off a cosy vibe. The tables were also well spaced, which I always appreciate. Honestly, there’s nothing I hate more than small restaurants trying to fit in as many tables as possible where you feel as though you’re dining with the people next to you!
There’s also a private dining area upstairs that can cater for up to 22 people if you’re looking for a corporate dinner or a special occasion.
Although The Ninth describes itself as ‘a neighbourhood French restaurant’ with ‘simple yet refined Mediterranean-style cooking’, when we visited I actually thought it was Italian because there were so many dishes that were Italian or Italian-influenced. I’d describe the menu as Modern European but then… I’m no expert!
The dishes are all designed to be shared, however there is no pressure to do so. Luckily my husband and I love sharing so this was right up our street. The menu is divided into snacks, starters, pasta dishes, mains, vegetables and desserts.
We ordered from both the snacks and the starters to start with. From the snacks selection we ordered two portions of the crispy artichoke with aioli and the oxtail croquettes with watercress aioli. From the starters, we opted for the salted beef cheek.
The crispy artichokes, which were inspired by Jun’s visits to Rome, were so incredibly delicious, we ordered another two portions! As these are fairly small, I’d recommend ordering one each.
The oxtail croquettes with watercress aioli were perfectly crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside.
The salted beef cheek was so tender and was perfectly paired with à la grecque vegetables. They were almost pickled, which I thought cut through the saltiness of the beef perfectly. It was also beautifully presented.
There were three pasta dishes on the menu and they all sounded fantastic so we opted to skip mains and order all three. With the pasta dishes, you can order either as a small portion or a large one. Given we’d already eaten four artichokes, croquettes and the salted beef cheek, we went with the small portions! To be honest, the small portions are pretty generous.
My favourite was the cuttlefish malloreddus with crispy squid and bottarga. Malloreddus is a pasta shape that is typical to Sardinia. The crispy squid added some texture and the bottarga added an essence of the sea. Honestly, this dish was phenomenal.
The ossobuco tortellini with bone marrow and gremolata was also a great choice. It was meaty and rich with both the ossobuco and bone marrow – a great Winter dish. It also looked so pretty on the plate with the vibrant orange and green.
The last pasta dish we tried was the pipe regate (pipe regate is the shape of the pasta, which is like a snail shell) served with an egg yolk and truffle. How it’s served is that you mix it yourself, which is quite fun!
Despite ordering three pasta dishes to share, each dish was brought out individually instead of all together. This was very much appreciated as it meant they didn’t get cold!
We don’t normally order dessert at lunch, but as it was a special occasion we did. I had the cheesecake with rhubarb, which wasn’t as good as I was expecting. It was pleasant but nothing to rave about.
My husband ordered the Pain Perdu with vanilla ice-cream for dessert. When he asked what it was, it was described as being like French Toast. Oh my! It was so good. Crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. Would absolutely order this again.
As it was my birthday, they very kindly decorated a plate with ‘happy birthday’ written in chocolate and served me some delicious, refreshing sorbet and buttery crumble. The Ninth is obviously popular for birthdays as mine was the third whilst we were there!
We had the loveliest server! Although sadly I didn’t get her name though. She was so smiley and warm and made us feel very welcome. Overall we had great service from everyone – friendly, professional and attentive.
Although it’s not technically an Italian restaurant, it had enough delicious Italian dishes that I’ve added The Ninth to my ‘best Italian restaurants in London‘ blog post! I definitely can’t wait to return.