From the Makers of Beach Blanket Babylon – West Thirty Six:
Having recently moved south of the river, I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired by the idea of a trek across London to North Kensington/Westbourne Park Road, an area that tend to attract a particular type of aspiring London hipster. The Shoreditch of the West, it’s expensive but not posh, liberally sprinkled with bleak housing estates and 1960s warehouses and with what seems like a contrived scruffiness about the period buildings.
When its big brother, Beach Blanket Babylon opened in Notting Hill in the 1990s, it was one of a kind, catering for a design conscious trend-setter. The place has aged gracefully though it no longer seems unique. It’s hard to know why West Thirty Six, the newest venture from Robert Newmark has dropped the Beach Blanket Babylon branding because much of the basic concept seems the same. West Thirty Six, a few minutes from Westbourne Park Road station dominates the corner of Golbourne Road, sprawling over four floors with several outdoor patios and terraces. Inside, on the ground floor, there’s a large central bar, ultra comfy leather banquettes and tables in discrete sections, so that even if the place is packed, I imagine things feel reasonable private.
An offer of a glass of champagne, Alain Thienot Brut (£11.50) was well received. And the olives, in one of those pretty copper pans I always want to tuck in my bag, were meaty and well flavoured. Procrastinating over what to order, in the end we picked three dishes between the two of us.
House smoked wild salmon with sea purslane came with caperberries and gherkins, a home made mayo and a light lemony dressing. The salmon was excellent, firm and nicely smoked with a consistent pink flesh and minimal white veining.
Crab trifle, avocado, rye toast (£9) was an updated seafood cocktail with beautifully flaky fresh crab and chunks of creamy avocado. Apparently the toast was sour-dough, not rye…but if I’m honest I wouldn’t have known.
The totally unecessary but rather moreish bowl of white bean hummus with heritage carrots seemed lighter and creamier than its chickpea cousin. I tried my best to avoid dipping too much – knowing full well that there was steak to come.
I deliberately picked the house aged beef from the menu – prime cuts of organic Hereford beef aged in house for 39 days or more. And, asked for fillet, which I suspect mutated into a sirloin somehow. It was good though, whatever the cut, and I particularly enjoyed the Navaherreros grenache served alongside.
Meanwhile my companion was indulging in Lobster, with garlic and hazelnut butter and fries, served with a lighter red wine, an Italian Statua red from the Negroamore grape.We’d ordered side dishes too, though actually they proved totally unecessary given the size of the mains.
There are no specific vegetarian dishes on the menu here, but everything listed under ‘vegetables’ seemed to be almost a meal in itself. Our own selection of three were forest mushrooms with barley, dill and creme fraiche, artichokes with broad beans hazelnuts and saffron and roasted cauliflower with pomegranate and hazelnut.
In retrospect, we should probably have picked from the ‘sides’ because this particular lunch did turn into something of an indulgence.
On to dessert. It’s always interesting to ask staff for suggestions. My apple cinnamon pie with custard came served with pride. Not in the least misplaced, this was the kind of pudding you’d hope your mother might one day learn to make.
Then tea and coffee while we tried to recover a bit.
A tour of the building was a good way to burn off just a few of the calories from lunch. Designer Gillian Anderson-Price has created a maze of rooms, terraces and patio areas over four floors. It’s the kind of place where if you moved in at lunch on a Sunday you’d probably find yourself still there at 11pm, eating and drinking your way through the menu and we were told it’s already full to the brim at weekends. There are bars and DJ decks upstairs too.
While it’s not enough to make me want to move to this part of London, it is somewhere that feels as if you’d only need one local friend to somehow end up adopting the place as your own.
I’m off now, to search through my address book and see who I know…
West Thirty Six,
36 Golborne Road,