Kitchen W8 – Sublime and on my Doorstep:
At times I wonder if perhaps I’ve spent the last ten years walking around with my eyes closed. There is, of course, a certain comfort in the familiar and that’s my excuse for not discovering Kitchen W8 before. There are other great restaurants around here and quite often if I am eating out, then I’m not in this part of London anyway. But, it’s still good to find a great new place to dine locally.
Kitchen W8, on a small side road halfway along Kensington High Street, has a discrete and rather unmemorable exterior. When I arrived, as always seems to be the case when I want to take a photo, there was a large delivery lorry parked outside, so I’ve borrowed a few pictures from my dining companion. Inside, understated chic, with muted colour on the walls, subtle contemporary art and rich velvet banquettes making this feel very much like an upmarket living room. Friendly enough to accommodate the odd Kensington yummy mummy and pushchair but laid out so that any guests who want to escape can move to a different level in the restaurant.
The menu includes a two and three course set menu priced at £17.50/£21.50 for two courses and £19.50/£24.50 for early dinner. We watched our neighbours, who turned out to be regular visitors to W8 Kitchen, enjoying the food which appears excellent value. Meanwhile, the a la carte pricing is not unreasonable for a Kensington restaurant with a Michelin star – starters all between £10 and £16 and mains between £20 and £30.
I like quail and I really liked the Kitchen W8 quail that I chose for my starter. Although often listed as ‘game’ what we eat in this country is usually farmed and not a true game bird. But I suspect is better for that with moist tender flesh that is full of flavour. This was a particularly effective rendition of barbecue glazed breast of quail with Yorkshire rhubarb, seared foie gras and what is listed on the menu as ‘spiced bread’ but turned out to be a kind of gingerbread sauce. And the dish was great both in the sense of quality of food and balance of flavours - the quail perfectly complemented with the gingerbread sauce and rhubarb.
My companion’s picture perfect Rillets of Cornish Mackerel with Smoked Eel vanished rather quickly. Apparently one of the signature dishes of Kitchen W8 this was greatly enjoyed. Both of us enjoyed the 2012, Grüner Veltliner ’Rosenberg’, Anton Bauer with our starters.
We’d argued just a little about what to choose for mains. We both wanted the roast wood pigeon. In the end though, I wasn’t at all disappointed with my second choice – a roast fillet of Cornish cod with hand rolled farfalle, crab, sprouting broccoli and citrus crumbs. Very fresh, flaky cod with a lovely crispy lemony topping nestling in the crab dressed farfalle made an exceptionally comforting winter lunch dish which I enjoyed with the Restaurant manager’s recommendation of a glass of 2011, Montagny 1er Cru, Jean Marc Boillot.
My friend’s Roast Wood Pigeon did look excellent though, with Purple Kale, Bulgar Wheat, Quince, Heritage Beetroots and Bacon. He was presented with a glass of Incredible Red Peachy Canyon 2010 Zinfandel. I’m always impressed when wine matching is offered and done well. I’d much prefer a glass of the *right* wine to a bottle of the wrong. And, unless you are a regular diner somewhere or a real expert it’s actually very hard to find the right wine for every dish. Someone working AT the restaurant stands a far better chance of knowing what the best match is. And, while personal taste is, of course, something that should be an important part of the decision making, asking for advice for me, is a great way to get more out my dining experience. Kitchen W8 has a good selection of wines by the glass so it’s worth asking for a recommendation.
For dessert, I was actually tempted by an ice-cream. Albeit something of a special ice-cream my roasted hazelnut parfait with salt caramel ice cream was gorgeously decadent, with chocolate soaked brioche really giving me a full on treat!
My dining companion chose the warm ginger financier with medjool date icecream and whipped white chocolate rice pudding.
And yet again we were offered matched wines – a 2007 Royal Tokaji and 2011 noble late harvest Riesling.
I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Kitchen W8. Yes, each course was reliable (apparently a pre-requisite for a michelin star). But, as importantly, the restaurant was friendly and comfortable. Service was good and portion size was on the right side of generous. I’ll be tempted to return and sooner rather than later.
Disclaimer: We dined as guests of Kitchen W8