Returning home

Saturday, March 05th , 2016

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Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green is certainly an interesting name for a pub and restaurant, and it has a new chef since my last visit. Sadly the dinner that we tried was a very disappointing experience, with standards having fallen off a cliff in the interval between this and my previous visit, the coffee being the best element of the meal by a wide margin. To make it worse it took an age to deliver our starters, what appeared to be the acting manager was remarkably inept, and the front of house operation was saved only by a solitary competent waitress. She must surely view the service shambles that operates around her with something approaching disbelief; I hope she ends up at a better place than this. To summarise: trouble in Paradise – I will stick in future to the nearby, and entirely wonderful, Parlour.

I had a second meal at Darbaar, a large Indian restaurant tucked away between HKK and l’Anima in a pedestrianized alley not far from the Broadgate Circus development at Liverpool Street. The head chef used to be in charge of the kitchen at Cinnamon Kitchen and can really cook. As well as familiar dishes there are innovative touches like the “nanza”, an Indian take on a pizza made with naan bread and spicy toppings. This is the second really good meal that I have eaten here and I would encourage you to go. The location, invisible from the streets at either end, is dismal from the point of view of footfall, and I really hope that Darbaar can prosper despite this major inherent handicap.

Pierre Koffmann was one of the few chefs ever to get three Michelin stars in the UK. Now a youthful 68 years old, he runs the more relaxed Koffmann (pictured) n the Berkeley Hotel, serving some of his old favourites from La Tante Claire days as well as more modern dishes. One of the latter is squid Bolognese, a technically complex dish in which ribbons of squid takes the place of pasta in the familiar Italian classic. This works really well and is much more than just a cheffy gimmick, the squid having lovely texture and the overall effect enjoyable. I also tried something far more traditional in the form of beef Wellington, which was superbly executed. For dessert, pistachio soufflé is glorious here but at this visit I had an excellent lemon tart. I am not sure why this restaurant has no Michelin star; perhaps he asked the tire company not to assess it, or perhaps they are just being obtuse. Certainly the food here is better than at plenty of starred restaurants.

I also had a pleasant meal at my local pub, The Roebuck. It is by no means a destination restaurant, but it does have a very appealing menu and friendly staff. The fish and chips there are quite capable, certainly better than the local chippie, and it is inexpensive. They also do a competent charcuterie board.