The Ninth in Fitzrovia reopens and it’s as good as it ever was
When my boss’s boss asked me to recommend a place to eat for a big anniversary – “somewhere like River Cafe or The Square” – he looked sceptical when I suggested a neighbourhood restaurant in Fitzrovia.
Thankfully he loved it, so I’m still here to bang on about what a great restaurant The Ninth is. It’s a near-perfect little place serving French-Mediterranean cuisine in what might be the most low-key romantic setting in London.
Sadly, having become a destination restaurant for those in the know, it was forced to close its doors seven months ago following a fire in the kitchen upstairs, which led to extensive damage to the ground floor dining room.
It finally reopened this month, which gave me the excuse I didn’t really need to revisit. I’m not sure what I was expecting but “restoration” might be more accurate than “renovation” – it looks identical to the restaurant I remember, from the artfully-crumbing exposed brickwork to the small bar that greets as when you enter.
And the food is exactly how I remember, too, which is a very good thing. Everything from a snack of whole, crispy artichoke with leek aioli right through to the pain perdu with tonka bean ice cream is spot on – expertly prepared and perfectly plated, confident without being flashy.
Picking the same dish twice usually feels like cheating but the langoustine ravioli, topped with slivers of Merinda tomatoes, is so good I would eat it every night of the week; an absolutely must-order and probably as close as The Ninth has to a signature dish. The tuna belly with mojama – the pancetta of the fish world – is also on point.
After a couple of years when too many great restaurants have closed, it’s nice to see one reopen. And if you have an anniversary coming up, I know just the place.