This restaurant is just off Kensington High Street, open since early 2010. The menu does not venture into experimental territory, so there are plenty of things that most people might actually want to eat rather than it being an assault course of weirdness that is all too often the case these days. Mark Kempson has been the chef here since the opening. Having previously worked with Phil Howard at The Square and with John Campbell at The Vineyard at Stock Cross. Starters were £8.95 to £16.95, main courses were £21 to £29.50 but at least there were no pesky surcharges for vegetables, and desserts were £6.75 to £8.
The wine list featured labels such as Guy Allion Domaine du Haut Perron Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2015 at £28 compared to its shop price of £10, Egon Muller Riesling Scharzhof 2014 at £67 for a bottle that retails at £28, and Hubert Lamy St Aubin Close de la Chateniere 2010 at £96 for a wine that will set you back £39 on the high street.
An amuse-bouche of pumpkin mousse with pumpkin seeds came with black rice crackers and pumpkin seed crackers. The crisp elements were certainly excellent, but not everyone may wish to begin a meal with the somewhat sweet taste of pumpkin, although it was certainly seasonal (14/20). Bread was from Flourish Bakery north of London, one of the better commercial bakeries serving the London area.
My starter of malt and mustard glazed sweetbreads was good, served with chicken wings, celeriac milk, shiitake mushrooms and wild leek. The sweetbreads had pleasing texture and the gentle hint of mustard worked well, though perhaps more greenery would have been useful given the richness of the dish (15/20). This was better than a salad of spiky artichokes with charred Calcot onions (from Tarragona), goats curd and hazelnut, which was pleasant enough but distinctly over-salted (13/20).
Pumpkin gnocchi had good texture, served alongside enoki mushrooms, black cabbage, chanterelles and walnuts. I was worried that this might be too sweet but this turned out not to be the case, though the smoked chestnut was over-smoked, providing a rather dominant flavour, and again the dish was a little salty, even to my taste (13/20). Middlewhite pork that had been aged for 55 days had good flavour, served with spiced carrot jam, young greens and cured pineapple. The cured pineapple cut through the richness well enough, though for me more greens would have been nice (14/20). I should observe that the lamb that one of my dining companions ate looked distinctly the grey side of pink, though I did not taste this.
Panna cotta with vanilla was served with blood orange gel and mousse, and this was the best of the desserts. The panna cotta was suitably wobbly in texture, the balance of tartness and sweetness precisely judged (15/20). I also quite enjoyed my stem ginger financiers with passion fruit and mango sorbet, though the ginger flavour was distinctly subtle (14/20).
The bill came to £118 each, admittedly with plenty of nice wine. A typical cost per head with more modest wine ordering might be nearer to £75. Service was very good, with topping up fairly reliable and the waiters being friendly and welcoming. One minor oddity is that the chef seems to like serving the food on dark plates, which I personally think is not the most appealing way to show off the food – mainly brown food on a brown plate? Anyway, this obviously does not affect how things taste.
Overall this is certainly a pleasant neighbourhood restaurant with an appealing menu. However at this meal some arguably minor but still troubling inconsistencies were creeping into some of the dishes, which should not really happen to a restaurant with a Michelin star.Book