You’re not short of dining spots along Kensington High Street, but there’s something quite special about dining so close to royalty. The Royal Garden Hotel – situated right next to Kensington Gardens and the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kensington Palace – has capitalised on its fine location with a suitably proper restaurant – Park Terrace.
The ground floor restaurant is pristine with its crisp, white tablecloths, unfussy table settings, flawless service and elegant plates of food. But there’s no stuffiness. The huge glass windows mean it’s wonderfully light, bright and modern-looking, and the staff are convivial. It’s all-day fine dining, and also serves an award-winning afternoon tea.
We sat on a table right by the window, which afforded us a view of the park, or at least its sturdy brick walls with lush green trees peeking over the top, and the bobbies on the beat, patrolling the park periphery. (From the fifth floor Chinese restaurant, Min Jiang, the park views are even more impressive, FYI.)
The menu is fairly succinct, featuring modern British dishes, with some nice touches for Londoners with local ingredients – Bermondsey cheese, for example – worked into the titles of dishes. There’s nothing too adventurous – chicken, lamb, fish, steak, cheese-based veggie dish – but Executive Head Chef Steve Munkley sources top quality, seasonal ingredients from local sustainable sources, and it’s all beautifully assembled for a reliably fine dining experience.
The pan-seared diver scallops – served on a vibrant pool on minted and crushed garden peas and beurre blanc foam – are a classic
Take the pan-seared diver scallops I had to start, served on a vibrant pool on minted and crushed garden peas and beurre blanc foam, with an impressive, shark fin-like Parma ham crisp protruding from the top. A classic. Beautifully presented. Meaty, melty and thoroughly delicious. My friend tried the Hampshire watercress velouté with goat’s cheese risotto croquette, a gloriously British soup enhanced by the addition of the crispy little Goat’s cheese island.
For the main course, the steak sounded great, but I’m always on the hunt for something a little less run of the mill, which here was the duck. The pan-seared Aylesbury duck breast, served with seared, scored skin, was pink and flavourful, if a little on the tough side around the edges, accompanied by a fantastic foie gras nugget with organic mushroom and garlic spelt risotto, baby vegetables and thyme jus. Like the scallops, it was an Instagram worthy dish that had substance as well as style.
My friend enjoyed the char-grilled T-bone of halibut with cod cheek crisp, Lyonnais potatoes, asparagus and tartare sauce. I was envious. I’d been eying that one up, but I have a ‘one fish dish, one meat dish’ dining out routine that I can’t seem to shake off.
But she’s a good enough friend to let me have one of her cod cheek crisps, reminiscent of a hunk of fish-and-chip-shop fried cod, but gourmet. (The Village Chip Shop in Blackheath should take note.) The entire affair was enhanced by a bottle of pinot grigio, the crisp, light, house wine that was refreshing on the warm, muggy evening we dined.
I’m not a huge dessert fan, I’d rather gorge on triple-cooked chips, frankly, but cheesecake is my weak spot, and the Amaretti cheesecake with coffee cream and Kahlua sauce was every bit a good as it sounds – a familiar favourite, jazzed up with tiramisu-like flavours and again dressed ready for its close up with a delicate chocolate arch sitting atop a dollop of ice cream.
Two cocktails and a bottle of pinot grigio later, we really ought to have popped into Bodo Schloss, a quirky, Alpine-themed nightspot just next door
The hot chocolate mousse with hazelnut macaroon and Bailey’s ice cream, lined up across the table for me on a long, linear, elegant plate – three little dollops of deliciousness – looked suitable for a royal wedding, and was also met with genuine glee. There’s no way we could possibly have eaten another thing, but then, oh, petit fours!
Two cocktails and a shared bottle of pinot grigio later, we really ought to have popped into Bodo Schloss, a quirky, Alpine-themed nightspot just next door to the hotel – Princes William and Harry have been known to pop in, as had the likes of David Beckham, Gwyneth Paltro and Henry Cavill – but having enjoyed a feast fit for a Queen, we thought it better to retire gracefully. There’s always next time…
LONDON FOOD MONTH
Park Terrace Restaurant will be taking part in the London Evening Standard’s major new food festival, London Food Month, kicking off on 1 June 2017. The restaurant has teamed up with four graduate chefs of the Craft Guild, who have each created a special set menu. Each is available for £65pp with wine, or £48 without.