On a balmy summer evening, I found myself journeying through the bustling labyrinth of Soho’s alleyways, in search of a newly-opened slice of seafood heaven known as Manzi’s. A hidden gem nestled amidst the thrilling vibrancy of London, Manzi’s has risen like a phoenix, reinventing itself in a delightfully camp, yet undeniably chic guise that aligns perfectly with the recent wave of extravagant openings making a splash in the press and across social media. It’s a bold venture from The Wolseley Hospitality Group, who have artfully transformed what could have been mere ostentation into a study in sophisticated elegance.
Stepping inside Manzi’s, you’re immediately transported to a whimsical underwater wonderland, meticulously brought to life by the creative minds of Fabled Studio. Anchoring the ground floor is a bustling bar, where patrons are invited to indulge in a tantalising array of cocktails. I opted for the refreshing Manzi’s Seabreeze, a harmonious blend of Ketel One vodka, cranberry, Manzanilla and PX sherry, clarified grapefruit juice, and Crémant Rosé, while my date went for the more robust Coastal Martini, a bold union of No 3 gin, dry vermouth, dry sherry, caper leaf, and Caol Ila mist. At £15 a pop, these beverages were a fitting prelude to our culinary odyssey.
The atmospheric lighting, the murmur of conversation, and the soft ripple of imaginary waves create an irresistible ambience that begs you to stay a while.
The bar at Manzi’s | Miami Vice cocktail
Our journey continued as we ascended to the first floor, an ethereal space that was reminiscent of an enchanted underwater oasis, complete with a mermaid-studded bar and intimate ‘snug’ that is ideal for larger gatherings or more private dining. The atmospheric lighting, the murmur of conversation, and the soft ripple of imaginary waves create an irresistible ambience that begs you to stay a while.
As we perused the all-day menu, it became clear that coastal classics are at the heart of Manzi’s culinary concept. The casual yet comprehensive selection of sandwiches, oysters, and raw offerings provide a modern nod to tradition, while the ‘prix-fixe’ set menus cater to those who prefer a guided dining experience. Standout offerings include the Monkfish Wellington with sauce américaine and the lobster Thermidor with samphire and French fries, dishes that bear the promise of becoming Manzi’s signature delights.
We decided on the yellow-fin tuna tartare with a sesame dressing and the dressed Dorset crab served with brown crab mayonnaise. The tuna tartare was a symphony of delicate flavours, perfectly balanced and complemented by a bottle of the Vesevo Beneventano Falanghina, whose luscious fruit aroma and balanced acidity made it an excellent partner to our seafood starters. The dressed Dorset crab, though presented in a slightly challenging crab-shaped holder, was fresh and utterly Instagrammable.
For the main event, we treated ourselves to the indulgence of lobster. The Bateman’s lobster roll was an elevated take on a summer classic, featuring a fluffy brioche bun generously filled with lobster and a tangy ‘thousand island’ dressing. It was a gastronomic journey back to the sun-drenched beaches of Key West. My date, meanwhile, chose the lobster Thermidor, a rich, creamy dish boasting tender lobster meat, which elevated the evening to a whole new level of delight.
Bateman’s Lobster Roll | Lobster Thermidor
Manzi’s is a testament to the power of reinvention. A distinctive dining experience in the heart of London, and an homage to seafood in its simplest and finest form.
Our sweet finale came in the form of a nostalgic Knickerbocker Glory and a tiramisu served with an espresso sauce, a visually stunning and palate-pleasing conclusion to our evening.
Indeed, the beauty of Manzi’s lies not just in its decor or its menu, but in the joyous, yet sophisticated atmosphere it so effortlessly cultivates. It’s an elegant refuge amid the bustle of Soho, a place where patrons can step into a fantastical water world for an evening, temporarily leaving behind the mundane for an undersea dream.
Manzi’s is a testament to the power of reinvention. It’s a must-visit spot for anyone looking for a distinctive dining experience in the heart of London, an homage to seafood in its simplest and finest form, served with a generous side of elegance. With its extraordinary blend of exquisite food, whimsical interiors, and an unbeatable location, Manzi’s makes for a perfect night out in Soho.
Address: 1-8 Bateman’s Buildings, London W1D 3EN