The Ned is becoming increasingly overrun, no surprise given its slick and sexy guise.
It was my second time back to the enormous Bank-based venue and there was a team of bouncers on the door checking people in.
Armed with a reservation at Malibu Kitchen for 7:30pm, I passed the test and was let through the shiny dark wooden doors.
On stepping into the hotel-cum-members club-cum-food hall, a jazz band was playing and post-work chatter bounced around.
I slipped to the right, where I found Malibu Kitchen nestled away from the hubbub.
The rectangular eatery has a counter-style seating arrangement but luckily I scored a little more privacy in a leather booth-type of chair.
My dining companion Vlad arrived and we started out with a refreshing drink.
I opted for a classic vodka olive martini, while Vlad went for one of Malibu Kitchen’s signature concoctions, the ‘Peas‘. The frothy green mix of Bombay Sapphire, parsley, citrus and egg white even came served with a sugar snap pea delicately balanced on the top.
Our waitress recommended that we share the dishes and choose two to three each.
From the ‘first bites‘ section we went for a plate of padron peppers, while from the ‘raw & cured‘ selection we went for a rice bowl topped with salmon, avocado and poppy seeds.
Getting into the healthy swing of things, we opted for a salad of coconut, raw vegetables and spicy nuts joined by a mountain of beetroot tartare drizzled with almond aioli.
But veering off slightly from the clean-eating track, we also put in an order for a cheeseburger.
The atmosphere at Malibu Kitchen is vibrant and relaxed, with jazz wafting over and soft lighting setting the tone.
There were a mix of people in the eatery on a Friday night, some people appeared to be on dates, while others looked to be mingling with colleagues.
The service was efficient, with the servers able to speedily navigate the neat space.
On the food front, the tapas style of dining worked well and the portion sizes were just right.
The mix of flavours were a talking point and we slowly grazed through our plentiful field of greens.
The coconut salad was a fun mix, with the smeared slew of spicy nuts luring the fork back for more.
The smallish cheeseburger was dissected in half with a mound of chips and a pickle thrown into the equation.
We’d been at dinner for more than two hours but our waitress didn’t appear in a hurry to shuffle us out the door.
Taking advantage of her obliging nature, we put in an order for dessert.
Going with her recommendations, we went for a slice of raw chocolate cake and a Malibu Sundae.
Things went quiet when the sweets were delivered to the table.
As with the savoury dishes, both creations were artistically finished with a sprinkling of flowers.
The raw chocolate cake is a must-try and I couldn’t help but smile as the smooth mixture slid from my spoon.
Mixed with avocado, the chocolate was deliciously buttery and a grain base played with the texture.
The sundae was the perfect accompaniment, with a light cream giving way to chunks of sweet caramelised plums.
After three hours lost in the wilds of Malibu Kitchen it was time to head off.
As I sauntered past the jazz band and into the coolness of the night, that buttery chocolaty goodness still played on my mind.
Malibu Kitchen is located at 27 Poultry, EC2R 8AJ
To book a table call + 44 (0)20 3828 2000 or visit www.thened.com.