Jun Tanaka’s French-Mediterranean Fitzrovia restaurant has a simple sharing formula and casual vibe
The Ninth is so called because it is the ninth venture with which its chef-patron Jun Tanaka has been involved. The US-born Japanese-British chef has a thorough grounding in the art of classic French cooking with a heavyweight CV that includes stints at The Square and Le Gavroche.
But The Ninth (opened in 2016) isn’t quite what one would expect from a chef with such a pedigree. The Charlotte Street restaurant is a relaxed, everyday place with a focus on family-style eating. While clearly influenced by his time under the likes of Phil Howard and the Rouxs, his menu takes much of its inspiration from the Mediterranean and is therefore lighter in style.
The Ninth is rightly feted for its pasta dishes, which almost stray into fusion territory by combining the best of Italian and French cooking. Whole fish is another speciality of Tanaka’s kitchen, with the current line up including the likes of grilled whole seabass with mussels and Datterini tomatoes.
The 90-cover space has an upmarket yet relaxed feel with bare brick walls, leather banquettes and a few modern touches. Smartly dressed staff have a well-judged professional yet unobtrusive approach to service that is perfectly in keeping with the restaurant’s positioning as a neighbourhood-style establishment.
Tanaka’s easy-going manner and talent in the kitchen have not gone on noticed with the chef having appeared on a variety of food shows. Not least competitive cooking show Chopped Champions, which he won in 2013, investing the not-insubstantial cash prize into The Ninth, which is now his primary focus.