Chino Latino looks and tastes great but beware of the atmosphere. This place comes with attitude and a not too friendly one at that.
This first floor restaurant is expensive but at least it looks the part. There are three zones - a lounge just past the stairs, the bar and the restaurant at the back. The bar is illuminated by a large light box with a moving rainbow effect and you can see a similar trick on the stairwell. The different tables, where you will sit on transparent Perspex swivel chairs, are separated by sheer curtains to create even more atmosphere.
The tables are lit by spotlights with the same rainbow effect – the lighting is definitely one of the good points of Chino Latino – but despite large windows looking towards Boar Lane the place remains rather dark. There are few stools past the bar where you can at least see what drinks are on offer. The lounge, furnished with contemporary couches, is somewhat brighter. The ceiling is covered in shiny panels and there is no corner of the room that has not been carefully thought out. Chico Latino looks slick, glamorous and upmarket.
Chino Latino aims to attract those in their thirties and forties with plenty of cash to spend. This is the place for sophisticated cocktail sipping, usually by an older crowd rather than bright young club crowd. The prices, people and pretentious atmosphere are a powerful deterrent for youngsters and those who are in their twenties are rare.
The bar staff are rather stuck up and look you up and down before serving. Obviously they serve anybody but they're only friendly to some. But the music is quite good and funky and chill-out fuse into one here and this is the perfect soundtrack to a fashionable cocktail session.
Despite the name, Chino Latino does not serve pollo asado but a carefully crafted selection of Pan Asian fusion dishes. To have a taste of what they serve order from the three canape menus (£12.50 to £18) which offer a selection of dishes including salmon and avocado maki rolls, Thai beef salad in lotus leaves, duck salad in cucumber rolls, chicken and peanut sauce skewers and more. The food does not disappoint and having tested the canapes you'll want to move on and sample the restaurant menu. Here you have a large choice of sashimi and cheviches, new style sashimi, sushi, tempura, meat and seafood dishes.
Your stomach will rumble just from reading the menu which includes delicacies such as pan seared foie gras and sliced duck breast with nashi pear poached in plum wine with yuzu miso and tempura chives, crispy soft shell crab new style nigiri, oscietra caviar with shiso vinaigrette and tempura oyster with creamy curry sauce and more. You may not always know what you are ordering but the divine taste is guaranteed.
For something a bit less elaborate and more familiar opt for a small plate or dim sum. From this section you can order tomato and tempura mozzarella with basil salad, spicy fried squid and pork and prawn dumpling. Prices are predictably unfriendly to the wallet and the cheapest set menu is £27. Ouch.
Cocktails here are £6.90 with Champagne mixes priced at £8.50. Like their food the inspiration for the drinks menu is Asian and these drinks are their very own attempt to create fusion drinking. They are a mix of East and West with all the cocktail traditions respected but with the occasional exotic ingredient thrown in here and there. Their own concoctions – they serve many – are ideal if you want to skip that boring Cosmopolitan. Try a Dragon Fly, Cuban Jab (Matusalem Platino rum, fresh citrus presse, ruby grapefruit juice), Educated Gringo (bourbon, port, lime, moscovado sugar), Dusty Mexican (tequila, orange liqueur, dark chocolate) and others. Beware though. Despite the steep prices you can still be served a rotting pineapple juice.
The Last Word
The food and drinks for once are not only stylish but are actually skilfully crafted (especially the food). You just wish this place was a bit friendlier.