Kitchen W8. Classy in Kensington.
Sunday night. The graveyard slot. And obviously, because I had bigged it up to C, it was never going to be as good as I’d said. Why does that always happen? I remember dragging my father up from Manchester to try Wings, in New Barnet, in the 80’s (it was a favourite at the time). It was, inevitably, mediocre beyond belief. Never before and never after.
And I was trying to do the lo-carb thing, which I managed surprisingly well, whilst watching the very beautiful crusty sourdough bread being shovelled into
C’s face at a rate of knots.
Have the risotto, I insisted. Jerusalem Artichoke with Vacherin Mont D’or and Winter Truffle.
Having had it the last time I came, I thought it was a magnificent dish. That is because it contains a number of my favourite things, all in one place. C, perhaps thinking he was being witty, described it as a sort of grown-up Kraft Dinner, which I thought was harsh and says more about him than it does about the food. It is, (and you will need to trust me and not him) a wondrous, grown-up, gooey, rich plateful of carb-y truffly, cheesy riciness. I implore you to order it.
And the Kraft Dinner thing? To justify it, he said it was a sort of Proustian flashback to his Canadian youth, and obviously not an underlying predilection for really bad junk food. Like my brother-in-law’s ironic purchase of Squeezy Cheese. Of course.
I had the Caramelised Orkney Scallops and Beurre Noisette, Pear, Swiss Chard and Roast Chicken Skin. I wasn’t quite expecting what I saw on the plate. And I’m using the capitals because they did, not because I don’t understand the rules of grammar. These things are important.
The scallops were fresh and perfectly cooked and indeed caramelised; there was a smear of pear which went well with the scallops and the chard but for me the real star of the dish was the hazelnut and roast chicken skin.
This was not hazelnut and roast chicken skin as you and I would know it. A sort of El Bulli type imagination of those ingredients, formed into a powder that looked like sawdust. I know, Pseuds Corner alert, but really, it was very delicious and for me, the highlight of the dish.
And then C had the daily special, which was slow-cooked beef, a large round slab, with smoked beetroot and a side of oxtail boulangere potatoes. Those potatoes were utterly magnificent, but really wanted to be a dish on their own. Too big, in a flavour sense, as a side dish , this was an odd choice as an accompaniment.
My sea bream with Crown Prince squash chanterelles, curly kale and Winter truffle pesto was a very lovely gentle Sunday evening dish. The fish fresh, the skin crunchy, and the accompaniment all adding contrast.
Call me old-fashioned but I had expected some actual squash with the dish or some side vegetable not just a few dribbles and smears. Smears. When will that trend end do we think? It was a bit sparse on the other things on the plate front and I would have ordered, had I known, the squash and chestnut side dish, which I had been ogling before ordering.
I really like this restaurant. It is good value, good cooking and has a pleasant, grown-up atmosphere. Not too loud either, other than the booming male voice behind us.
It’s a neighbourhood restaurant but only in a neighbourhood like Kensington can you get this sort of poshery. It is, I’m afraid, (at least slightly full of elderly braying people some of whom probably wear red trousers at the weekend and very thin, very young girls, in skinny jeans with impossibly large handbags costing more than a small car who probably use it as an alternative kitchen. Don’t let that put you off though, the set meals in the week are great value it’s a highly competent operation.