The Shed Restaurant Notting Hill
Walk into this ‘Shed’ just a few minutes from Notting Hill tube and find a cosy restaurant with an apparently haphazard arrangement of bar and tables spread across two rooms. Our host for the evening, the charming Richard Gladwin, ushered us to what I suspect must be the best spot in the house, right by the pass, where we could spend the evening pestering his brother, Oliver about the dishes we were being served.
The heritage of this bucolic-in-the-city venture became evident throughout the evening. For a start, the three brothers (Gregory Gladwin is the third member of the triumvirate and is responsible for sourcing the fabulous ingredients, from his own livestock and from local suppliers in Sussex) come from a family where, according to Oliver, both parents are fabulous cooks. They own and run a vineyard and farm in Nutbourne which produces a lovely fizz, Nutty Brut, that I sampled and enjoyed AFTER the house cocktail of foraged rosehip syrup topped with gin and white wine (woops). Then, there’s Oliver’s background in some great London restaurants (Oxo tower and Launceston Place) and latterly working with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. And Richard’s as manager of Brawn in Shoreditch and Bunga Bunga! The result is spectacular and apparently effortless dishes made from great local ingredients and served up in a warm and welcoming surrounding with more ‘boy’ appeal than shabby chic.
Asking the restaurant to choose a selection of dishes for us was an easy solution, though the menu isn’t overly complex, I would have found it hard to pick from the inventive list. As it was, watching dishes coming through the pass, I got a definite attack of food envy at times!
We did get to try all of the appropriately named ‘mouthfuls’, a rich pheasant and watercress pate, cuttlefish, onion and cheddar twirls and mackerel pate that was incredibly light and tasty. I didn’t REALLY want to share the crispy cuttlefish with its sweet chilli sauce. In fact, I could happily have eaten all of them. But that wouldn’t have helped me later on.
Then a plate of brawn, which we ate with some home-made sourdough. If the Gladwin brothers ever set up a deli, I’ll be trekking over to Notting Hill to buy this and take home. Made from the ‘best bits’ of two pigs heads, slow cooked down and then pressed into a traditional but very tender brawn, this was nicely complemented by pickles chard stems (yes we had to ask!).
A couple of salads arrived. Chicory, pear and bacon with a sherry dressing was a great balance of flavours with the sweetness of the bacon and pear offset by the slightly bitter chicory. Shaved button mushrooms with quickes goat’s cheese and tiny pieces of preserved orange or lemon rind, softer and almost melting.
Now, by this stage I had (genuinely) eaten enough. But more dishes appeared. Lamb Chips with harrisa were very posh, very perfect 100% meat rissoles, full of slow cooked lamb and coated with a crispy breadcrumb.
Probably my favourite dish of the evening was the pulled pork which came with parsnips, carrots and nutbourne tomatoes and a very generous helping of a sticky, deep jus.
And, the deeply seasonal black pumpkin (squash?), filled with a stuffing of spelt, leeks, almond and garlic.
And then, a large plate of venison liver appeared. My dining companion ate the most part of that, I was really quite full…but I did taste just a little. It was a wonderfully tender, slightly gamey dish of ‘not quite calves liver’.
We shared a treacle tart and retired, sated and content.
The Shed is somewhere to deliciate (the new unctuous!), to enjoy the best British produce and to marvel at the intuitive and flamboyant food coming out of the kitchen. It was full, mid-week by about 8.00pm and I suspect with prices between £6.50 and £8.50 for small plates that are actually quite generous, it will get busier.