New restaurant Wormwood in Notting Hill is gaining rave reviews and Kat Hopps wholeheartedly agrees when she visits the restaurant on All Saints Road
It’s not the most enticing of names, is it? A herbal ingredient in absinthe it may be, but there’s a distinct reminder of a more unsavoury West London neighbour. That said the only way to describe Wormwood is exceptional. The food, the service: it’s all incredible, and I want to go back again and again.
Wormwood’s profile is still – as of yet – relatively low-key. It will have you hugging yourself with glee before you superciliously murmur to friends that those silly celebs may be falling over themselves to get into Chiltern Firehouse, but the real foodies don’t follow the flashbulbs, they follow their noses.
I should talk more about the pared down interior – elegant yet light with its white chairs and blue crockery – but I’m going to tell you about the cocktails instead. Christopher Cavaille, restaurant owner and formerly of The Ledbury, deserves an accolade. He is producing clever combinations that you won’t find anywhere else.
I sip on a Wormwood Classic, created by the chef Rabbah Ourrad, and it’s a refreshing blend of the restaurant’s own vodka, pared with fresh mint and lemon verbena. My guest’s fig and pear-infused Bourbon Negroni with Campari and vermouth makes you understand why the cocktails are described as nebulous: you’re not sure of every ingredient, but they sure taste good.
If you came for the food, you’ll be equally rewarded. The menu is Mediterranean with influences from North Africa, Spain and France, and small dishes are arranged for tapas-style eating. Rabbah, who is also ex-Ledbury and former chef at Sketch in Mayfair, is somewhat of a culinary genius with an extraordinary palate. He manages to stun me with a simple duo of smoked aubergine mousse and confit baby aubergine with chilli oil that is unbelievably delicious. A lobster bisque and couscous dish is pronounced my guest’s favourite and its richness is offset perfectly by an accompanying Japanese rice-wine. It’s hard to find fault. The foie gras is melt-in-the-mouth as is the pulled pork, and the concentrated flavours are devoid of the usual overload of oils and fats: it’s a masterclass in cooking. This is a Michelin-star experience in a neighbourhood restaurant. Just book now, before everyone else does.
16 All Saints Road W11 1HH; 020 7854 1808; wormwoodrestaurant.com