Tamarind Collection's unsuccessful One Kensington venture is to be renamed Zaika when it re-opens next month.
The move means that the site at 1 Kensington High Street once again takes on the name given to it by Claudio Pulze, who operated it until it was bought by Tamarind Collection in February 2013.
Tamarind Collection decided to re-open the restaurant as One Kensington in early 2014, with Massimiliano Blasone as executive head chef and Karl Kessab as general manager. Both had previously worked at Nikita Malibu in California, and Heinz Beck's Apsleys at The Lanesborough before that. The aim with One Kensington had been to recreate the atmosphere of the capital's leading private members' clubs, but it closed just a few months later, in September.
Now Tamarind Collection has decided to re-open the site as an Indian restaurant named Zaika, as a sister restaurant to Tamarind in Mayfair.
The restaurant will offer a menu of Northern Indian cuisine with a new team headed by executive chef Sanjay Gour, who was previously executive pastry chef at One Kensington.
Mumbai-born Gour previously cooked in Dubai at Verre, under Jason Atherton, before moving to Maze London, the Savoy Grill and Murano. He will be supported by head chef Dayashankar Sharma, who has been with the Tamarind Collection for 11 years.
His menu will return to his culinary roots, with a menu inspired by the techniques and flavours of Northern India's Awadhi cuisine which is traditionally influenced by the Middle East and uses cooking methods resembling European techniques.
The menu at Zaika will feature starters such as palak-patta chaat (spinach temp-kora, chickpea salad and lentil doughnut), samudri khazana (Amristsari prawn, lime leaf crab cake, spice crusted scallop) and gosht milan (Tawa grilled mint lamb cutlet, pulled lamb kurkure, kakori kebab). Signature main dishes on the menu are mahi mussalan (Awadhi baked sea bass), hiran kheema (braised venison mince, green onions, petit pois, straw potatoes), and murgh kurchan (chicken breast julienne, green pepper, pan-scraped tomatoes). In addition to the a la carte menu, a "hero dish" of sikandri raan (slow braised lamb leg, browned onion, cashew nut and almond sauce) will be available for pre-order.
The dessert menu offer Indian-influenced dishes such as Indian ‘Old Monk' Rum Baba, Lauki Kheer (bottle-gourd pudding, Madagascan vanilla apples) and matka kulfi (Hazelnut praline parfait).
Explaining the change of concept at the site, a spokesperson for Tamarind Collection said: "The team opened One Kensington early this year, which officially closed last month. They listened to the feedback of the customers and local community who desired an Indian restaurant and the return of Zaika. One Kensington didn't work in the site. They are drawing on the expertise and experience of the team at the Tamarind to match the success at the Michelin starred Indian restaurant."
Rahul Khanna, who is responsible for business development within the group, added: "It is a very exciting time for the Tamarind Collection to be launching the re-imagined Zaika. Sanjay is an extremely talented chef and brings so much life to his cooking and the project as a whole. Alongside Tamarind, the original Zaika was the first Indian restaurant to gain a Michelin star, we hope to recapture its popularity and work towards regaining such accolades."
The restaurant space, a former banking hall, retains original architectural features such as wood panelled walls, high carved vaulted ceilings and double-height windows offering views over Kensington Palace Gardens. Over 150 pieces of artwork will adorn the walls of Zaika. Banquet and booth seating will be upholstered with taupe leather and spot lights used throughout to offer adjustable lighting from day to night. The tropics of India will be reflected with an abundance of plants and fresh flowers around the room, including a living wall of greenery which will screen a semi-private 20 cover dining area situated on a raised platform at the front of the restaurant.