Last Updated on May 27, 2021
An old favourite in Kensington revisited – Kitchen W8
Where do you go for a birthday lunch with someone who spends a good part of their life reviewing restaurants? It’s a challenge – here at London-Unattached we enjoy all kinds of food, but writing reviews does have the effect of making everyone just a little bit picky.
We did actually review Kitchen W8 in 2013. Since then, I’ve moved from West London to South of the River and High Street Kensington is a bit of a trek. That said, I’ve been meaning to go back and, when we started to chat about where to go, it was just one of my suggestions. I’m so pleased it was Lucy’s choice – it’s the kind of place that really does deserve to be treated like a good friend – one you meet up with regularly for a relaxing meal.
In fact, one of the reasons I’ve promised myself a revisit for so long is the superb value. This is a Michelin star restaurant, with excellent service and a few great options if you want to get more for less. There’s a set menu for lunchtime and early evening dining with two courses for £26.50 and three for £29.50 on most days of the week. And, on Sunday nights, there’s a no corkage offer, so although you’ll be dining from the a la carte menu, you can bring your own bottle of wine!
When we arrived for our mid-week lunch, the restaurant was busy but comfortable. A celebration deserves a celebratory drink and I spotted the Kir Imperial – made with my favourite champagne, Billecart Salmon. An excellent way to start the meal. We agreed to mix and match the a la carte and the set menu – an equable way to have a little variety since other than cheese or dessert, there are no alternatives on the set menu. And we ordered a reasonably priced bottle of 2019 Picpoul de Pinet, Cuveé Caroline, Famille Morin, a lovely light and dry white wine with notes of green apple, citrus and white blossom and a classic saline note. It probably paired best with Lucy’s main of Cornish pollock from the set menu but was the kind of wine that is good drinking at any time and light enough to enjoy without guilt at lunchtime.
My starter from the set menu was a warm salad of spring vegetables with toasted hazelnuts and Perigord truffle cream. Lightly blanched white and green asparagus, carrots and beans were sprinkled with a few crunchy hazelnuts and a light truffle cream.
The first time I tried burrata was in Puglia – and Kitchen W8 get theirs from there. Served with grilled grezzina courgettes, shallot and herb crumbs and minted spring peas it was a stunning and utterly delicious.
The A La Carte option for us was slow cooked rump of veal with crisp sweetbread, white asparagus, wild garlic and mousseron mushrooms. Beautifully tender meat with a silky and carefully balanced jus.
The set menu main course, fillet of Cornish pollock, pecorino gnocchi, wilted lettuce, spring peas and bacon was light, perfectly executed and in no way a compromise.
We did indulge in a sharing portion of Perigord truffle and Parmesan triple cooked chips. We really didn’t need more food – but who could resist such a naughty treat
And, for dessert, a plate of poached new season’s apricots, sauternes soaked savarin, camomile and salted almonds.
Along with a surprise birthday plate for Lucy
Kitchen W8 is the kind of place you should know about. Unassuming, unpretentious and really friendly. Somewhere you could go with your parents, with a lover or with a group of friends. Looking around us, there were such a wide range of diners, all enjoying themselves. It’s not loud, it’s not trendy, it’s just very very good. The chef, Mark Kempson has run the kitchen since the restaurant launched in 2009 and Kitchen W8 won its first Michelin star in 2011 and has never lost it. But would you expect anything less from Philip Howard and Rebecca Mascarenhas?
11-13 Abingdon Road
London W8 6AH