This restaurant closed in 2009 and is now Kitchen W8. The notes below are based on a meal in October 2008 and are now of purely historical interest. I scored it 12/20, a little kindly perhaps.
Just off the Kensington High Road, this is sister to Sonnys and the Phoenix. The décor was quite reminiscent of Sonnys, down to the identical tubular chairs. The room is low-ceilinged but quite large, with a slate floor and arty black and white framed photos on the walls. The tables were carelessly laid out, with paper tablecloths and lighting from directed spots that did not match the table placement: the far corner of our table was illuminated, the main part gloomily lit. The menu was modern British, with starters from £5.50 - £9, mains from £14 - £20 with vegetables extra.
The wine list was brief, fitting on a two-sided piece of paper, but quite well put together. It started at £13.75, with examples such as Shadowfax Pinot Noir 2004 at £35 for a wine that retails at £12, Isabel Estate 2006 Sauvigon Blanc £30.50 for a wine that costs £11 in the shops, and the capable Isole e Olena Chardonnay at £38.50 for a wine that you can buy for about £18.
Bread is from the Exeter Street bakery, in this case a choice of good foccacia or decent, if not perfectly fresh, brown bread. A starter of duck and venison terrine was a coarse but pleasant enough pate, served with good plum chutney, but with some sorry excuses for pickles: watery, acidic pickled cucumber (11/20). Scallops were seared for too long, served with a decent celeriac and carrot puree and a balsamic beurre blanc that was over-acidic (11/20).
My initial main course of papardelle with oxtail ragu was dismal, the pasta hopelessly overcooked. The waitress looked pretty embarrassed and replaced it with a roast chicken breast with sweet potato mash, along with caramelized parsnip and rosemary. This was better, the chicken not of very high quality but cooked well enough, the dish overall crying out for something crisp to go with all the soft textures (12/20). Sauteed king prawns were timed OK, but with a really nasty globe artichoke puree that was watery and had little artichoke taste, with a “saffron vinaigrette” that was just a sharp brown sauce (10/20).
The saving grace were desserts. Apple and pineapple crumble is an odd idea but the fruit was fine, the crumble itself rather too crumbly, but with very good vanilla ice cream (13/20). Other ice creams (chocolate, caramel) were also fine. The cooking overall seemed to me sloppy, with so many purees and mashes that the chef should consider going into baby food as a sideline. Several plates with hot food were stone cold, which is a pretty basic mistake. The only redeeming feature was the excellent service of our Spanish waitress, who came over without prompting when she saw me trying to eat the soggy pasta, and was charm itself. I hope she gets a job at a better restaurant than this. Rebecca Mascarenhas, who owns this, seems to have been losing the plot recently. Sonnys used to be a regular haunt of mine but after endless chef changes seems to be in serious decline, while the cooking here is just lazy.
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