London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Kitchen W8


Michelin Stars don't come for free, but Phil Howard seems to be collecting them for fun at the moment. Proprietor of two-Michelin starred The Square in Mayfair, Howard is also behind Kitchen W8 in Kensington, a joint venture with Rebecca Mascarenhas of Sonny's Kitchen in Barnes. A combination of culinary pedigree and local-restaurant know-how has resulted in Kitchen W8 being awarded one Star.

The premise of Kitchen W8 is to offer the locals of Kensington a neighbourhood restaurant, a relaxed atmosphere in which to drop in when cooking is too much effort. In truth, for the rest of us, it's a destination restaurant, somewhere to get excited about. A lovely venue to impress a date, or perhaps celebrate a birthday or anniversary. Prices are not unreasonable for Michelin Star quality, but Kitchen W8 is far too grand to be considered an everyday restaurant.

The dining room looks stunning; muted colours with expensive looking wallpapered feature walls, ornate mirrors and tasteful artworks. The staff are warm and welcoming from the first moment you step inside, making you feel at home without being intrusive or overbearing. The clientele is typical of the area; a coterie of wealthy-looking middle aged couples and younger groups that could double for the cast of Made in Chelsea.

The pedigree of the food was evident from the outset. Our starters of slow poached haddock and caramelised scallops set the tone for an evening. Served in a tangy sauce of clams, chorizo and cider, the haddock was gentle in flavour and flaked apart at the touch of the fork. It was a dish of quality over quantity that enlivened our taste buds and left us wanting more. The scallops were served with a rich, smooth beurre noisette, vegetables and dehydrated powdered chicken skin which, when eaten, gave the illusion of eating the real thing, perfectly reconstructing the crisp texture of actual chicken skin.

Being Easter time, for main course we had to sample some Easter bunny and try the rabbit, served three ways as roast loin, croquette and boudin on bulgur wheat. The variation in styles kept our palette intrigued, the loin was soft and light, the croquette was rich and creamy with a mash centre, and the boudin - a sort of sausagemeat ball - gave the dish more texture and bite. We also sampled the slow poached chicken breast which had a beautifully rich flavour and served in a delicious jus reduction. Alongside the breast was a giant raviolo stuffed with leg meat, sprinkled liberally with some more of the skin powder that we sampled earlier. Portion size is not on the large side, so if you're hungry (as we were), we recommend a side order of buttered potatoes too.

Rounding the meal off, we delightfully indulged in a chocolate brioche with salted caramel ice-cream and roasted hazelnuts, and a zesty, refreshing passion fruit tart with lime ice-cream and fresh pineapple.

We wish we could afford to eat at Kitchen W8 every day of the week, but alas we will have to keep Kitchen W8 as a destination for special occasions. Every neighbourhood should have a restaurant as good as is and we certainly hope that Howard and Mascarenhas one day look to roll out branches to other neighbourhoods around town too.

11-13 Abingdon Road, W8 6AH

Average price for main course: £23.50
Average price for glass of wine: £8.00
Food and drink: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value: 4/5


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