The restaurant: Kitchen W8, 11-13 Abingdon Rd, Kensington, London W8 6AH
Kitchen W8 serve ‘modern English cuisine with a French soul’, according to the restaurant’s website. The kitchen has been headed by Mark Kempson since it opened in 2009. He, and the co-owner Phil Howard, previously worked together at The Square in Mayfair. The restaurant, a short walk from Kensington High Street tube station, has held a Michelin star since 2011. W8’s recent refurb has left the dining room feeling open, airy and not uncomfortable: it’s luxurious without being ostentatious. Large round mirrors punctuate the walls, but are placed as so you’re not having to watch yourself eat. Moss-green banquettes line the room, paired with leather-covered chairs and crisp, white tablecloths.
It’s rare that I go to a place and want to order everything on the menu, but Kitchen W8 had that effect. Beetroot-cured salmon, onion broth with artichoke were the starters we wish we’d had chance to try. Red chicken ravioli hummed with winter truffle, the creamy meat tightly packed into thin parcels of pasta. We savoured each mouthful. Fresh, grilled mackerel, piled atop smoked eel and leek had a lightly charred, deep fishy flavour balanced by the sweet mustard.
Cornish cod for main was served with caramelised cauliflower and a row of fat, juicy mussels. The fish was brilliantly white with a crisp skin, boosted by the mussels and complemented with the mush of cauliflower and salty sauce. For myself, a hunk of glazed short rib, with luscious beef-fat creamed mash, shallots and a kick of red wine jus. I could eat the smooth, beefy mash for days. A slither of pumpkin draped over the tender rib was a lovely sweetener.
Dessert was a vibrant affair of deep and bright rhubarb pinks and blood orange. The fruit was served in a fish bowl dish, topped with crunchy white chocolate shards, alongside warm dinky vanilla doughnuts. Sour and citrus fruit flavours were balanced by the sweetness of the chocolate and doughnuts. Chocolate pavé was a rich slab of rich moussed chocolate encased in thin slithers of deep, dark chocolate, with fresh, orange ice cream and toasted almonds for added crunch.
Kitchen W8 isn’t a stuffy Michelin-starred restaurant, neither is it your neighbourhood Michelin restaurant, unless your neighbourhood is Kensington. Nonetheless, it is a place enjoy contemporary English cuisine with some unique twists and turns that don’t overstep the mark in terms of flavour but accentuate traditional dishes that we all know and love.
To book, visit KitchenW8.com or call 020 7937 0120
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