I was very pleased to be able to try out Notting Hill Kitchen earlier this week – the Spanish/Portuguese restaurant that is home to an equally smart tapas and cocktail bar too – for some delicious Iberian cuisine.
Housed in a rather impressive building (once upon a time converted from three Edwardian townhouses, no less) on Kensington Park Road just south of Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill Kitchen is a very welcoming space, something that’s matched by the attentiveness and friendly nature of the staff. It’s the restaurant’s bar area that you come to first upon entering, somewhere where you can perch up on the stools around the bar or by the high tables to settle in for a night of cocktails and tapas. And that’s how we started our night!
Sampling some of the most popular choices from the tapas menu – the spider crab, mini lamb burger and the ham and sour dough – I also chose the Black Cherry Cocktail as an accompaniment for the full tapas ‘n’ drinks experience; I was rewarded with an expertly made cocktail that went perfectly with our tapas.
All the tapas options are presented on rather smart black slates, making eating here a rather sleek affair! First to arrive was the spider crab in brioche buns which, with their rather round shape, were almost reminiscent of whoopee pies in presentation. Succulent chilled crab sandwiched in-between soft rolls – were this not tapas, I could have happily eaten more of these. In fact, it was only out of politeness that I stopped myself from devouring these whole, instead slicing them up politely. Next to arrive was the mac abrito (lamb mini-burger) which came as a decently sized burger patty with toppings of cucumber and coriander, complementing it well. Finally, we rounded things off with the tiborna, thin slices of ham draped over a half moon shape toasted sourdough slice, with bone marrow and a drizzle of truffle oil. In many ways, this felt like the most authentic tapas option we tried – I could imagine eating this perched at some seaside bar in Spain having a cold cerveza and watching the world go by.
We then moved on to sit in the restaurant proper, which we had already snuck a few glances at from our position in the bar. Although you can see the expansive space from outside, it’s still a surprise to see quite how large the restaurant area is once you enter. With muted greens, little decorative touches in and around the tables and plenty of wood detail throughout, it’s a relaxed but joyful setting for a meal.
Having already enjoyed the tapas a little too much, we skipped starters and went straight for mains. (Tapas options are also available as a starter in the restaurant proper.) I opted for the bacalhau com caldeirada – slow cooked cod – whilst my dining partner chose the mano a mano, confit pork cheek and ox tail, which was wonderfully presented with large roasted red onion slices and parsnip crisps. Pleasingly – unlike so many other places these days – mains do come with a decent side offering on the plate too, although there is of course a small selection of proper side dishes available as well.
My cod was wonderfully tender and fell apart easily when eating, its slow cooked nature really apparent. Caldeirada is a Portuguese fish stew, so the cod was set in a kind of broth that provided a delicate hint of the traditional dish. The side of kale – in sheep butter – was a welcoming ‘green’ on the plate and worked well with fish; rounding things off was the potato puree, presented in its own little pot, which helped soak up the juices and gave the whole dish a hearty and comforting impression. My choice of wine – a glass of crisp Portuguese Azeo wine – turned out to be a very fine tipple to have alongside this main.
Dessert? How could we could refuse? (In actual fact, we did have to be persuaded – but only because we were happily full by this point!) I had to ask what the pastel de nata was – it turns out that this is the traditional Portuguese egg tart, perhaps most commonly presented in a flaky pastry cup. By pure coincidence, I had picked one up at a Portuguese-run cafe in North London the day before (and thoroughly enjoyed it!); the thought of trying Notting Hill Kitchen’s deconstructed version was too tempting to not choose this dessert! This version was like a custard slice with a small delicate piece of pastry in the middle, and came with the usual pastel de nata accompaniment of cinnamon, here in ice-cream form, along with a few select choices of fruit. A reasonably light but oh-so-tasty choice to round up a very delicious meal.
All in all, a very enjoyable evening in a supremely sleek and comfortable setting in Notting Hill. I’d certainly recommend Notting Hill Kitchen as a option for dinner in W11, or for cocktails and tapas in their stylish bar. They also have a very tempting set lunch menu, and I can certainly imagine a weekend brunch here would be fantastic!
Notting Hill Kitchen
92 Kensington Park Road
Disclaimer: The Guide to Notting Hill was invited to dine at Notting Hill Kitchen, but was not required to write a positive review. We thank Notting Hill Kitchen for their kind invitation!