Malibu Kitchen is a little slice of California in the City. One of nine restaurants on the ground floor of super swish hotel-cum-members club The Ned, this clean-eating kitchen quite literally looks on the bright side. A slender, beautifully proportioned strip of a restaurant, enormous arched windows run along one wall, flooding the place with light. Grab one of the cute mini-booths directly under the windows and you can almost make believe you’re looking out onto the Pacific. There’s even a teeny cactus on each table.
The food is just as sunny. A good half of the menu is vegan and vegetarian, and the rather lovely surprise is that it’s not just virtuous, it actually tastes good, too. Take the ‘forbidden’ rice bowl: billed as an unappetising-sounding concoction of fermented vegetables and kale, it’s actually a richly textured mix of warm black rice, creamy avocado, spinachy veg and sharp alfalfa. Generously portioned and genuinely luscious, if clean eating always tasted this good I’d be doing it all the time.
Another highlight was the ‘roast cauliflower steak’. The cauliflower itself was beautifully fresh and al dente, the perfect foil for the smoky za'atar, crispy spiced chickpeas and garlicky yoghurt it was served with. All together this ‘steak’ made a juicy, meaty mouthful that at no point made me long for the real thing. Big achievement. Dedicated carnivores take note: there is a cheeseburger and plenty of fish on the menu. You will not be roped into going raw. Though the burger does come on a potato bun.
On the fishy side of things, the sea bream taco was beautifully spicy. The only slightly dud note was the ceviche, which, despite good quality seafood, lacked depth and was excessively tart. Overall though, this is a great spot to do some guilt-free dining. And don’t forget to go full-on LA, baby, and wash your meal down with a truly lip-smacking green juice.