Following a crowdfunding initiative, Gary Usher’s King Street bistro Kala became the fastest restaurant project to reach £100k in Kickstarter’s history when it opened last year, bringing humble bistro food to the city centre from the team behind Sticky Walnut, Burnt Truffle, Hispi, Wreckfish and Pinion.
It went on to receive glowing reviews in The Sunday Times and The Observer, and quickly became the kind of place locals felt loyal about, whether popping by for a quick drink at the bar or a full three-course dinner with friends.
The food offering is now mainly about simple set menus, with a choice of starters, mains and puddings to choose from, as well as a couple of sharing dishes and sides including the ever-popular truffle and parmesan chips.
Vadouvan spiced cauliflower risotto is a winning starter, mellow, sweet and smoky topped with crunchy puffed wild rice, alongside a dish of crispy pig’s head croquette with celeriac remoulade and a classic chicken liver pâté.
When it comes to mains, the braised featherblade of beef is a favourite, while a new addition is a smoked and glazed ham hock to share - and it’s an absolute belter. The meat has been braised for eight hours so it happily slides off the bone, while the miso glaze gives it the most stunning burnished coating as well as ramping up the intensely savoury flavour.
Puddings are no afterthought, and might include blackberry pavlova with plump sweet blackberries, cream and a smooth blackberry sorbet, a rich, fudgy flourless chocolate cake with retro mint choc-chip ice cream and the glossiest dark chocolate sauce, or the signature choux bun with whipped cream.
Sunday lunch includes roast beef with all the trimmings alongside more interesting than usual fish and vegetarian options. All wines are available by the glass, while the bar serves a mean Negroni. Service is as welcoming and friendly as ever.