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REVIEW: NOTTING HILL KITCHEN

Notting Hill Kitchen caused a stir with its inventive Iberian dishes when it opened last year, but can it keep up the pace? Jemima Boost went along to find out

If I’m completely honest I wasn’t sure what to expect from Notting Hill Kitchen. The name conjured images of seasonal modern-British dishes, the likes of quinoa, and superfoods salads, grills and fresh fish getting top billing, while the website showed the décor to be brooding and sleek, Japanese fusion perhaps?

Arriving to a row of lanterns, a blue and white tiled wall and neat little olive trees standing to attention, all confusion disappeared. It couldn’t be more Mediterranean, Portuguese Mediterranean to be precise. Inside, a maze of rooms snake through three Edwardian townhouses that have been decked out by interior designer Sandra Taruella (also responsible for El Celler de Can Roca, top of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2013). Her walls of stacked wine bottles, the dark green paint job (that I suspect to be Farrow & Ball’s Pigeon) and gleaming chocolate-coloured parquet flooring evokes the feeling of a private members’ club, not so Japanese after all.

The serious interiors are diluted by jolly waiters wearing aprons and bow ties and looking like they should be in a trendy Berwick Street shop. In typical Mediterranean style, they got jollier as the evening went on, culminating in one enthusiastically serving shots of Ginjinha (a traditional Portuguese cherry liquor) to everyone. Our fellow dinners were a mixed bag, a perfect snapshot of the denizens of Notting Hill. And despite the interior’s polished demeanour, the atmosphere was convivial and buzzy.

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Inside Notting Hill Kitchen

Food marched to the same tune – mainly classic but a little playful. We started with a palate-awakening sea bass ceviche, zingy and fresh, but perhaps slightly over onioned, and a creamy, marbled jamon Iberico, which came with a basket of warm bread served on beautiful wooden boards and a cork jar of olive oil. The presentation felt as if it was inspired by the Atlantic landscape of chef Luis Baena’s home on the Iberian Peninsula.

Swordfish smoked with Azores black tea on top of creamed carolino rice and rib eye with patatas bravas followed, the swordfish in particular deserves a mention. It was a beautiful balance of flavours, interesting and unusual. And despite the mix of fish and meat on the table, the excellent sommelier selected a white wine robust enough to complement both. It even went with the plate of Iberian cheeses that we finished with.

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Review: Notting Hill Kitchen

The interiors of Notting Hill Kitchen might be slightly confused, but the chef knows exactly what he’s doing.

92 Kensington Park Rd, London W11 2PN; nottinghillkitchen.co.uk

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