Thursday, 14 March 2013

REVIEW: Kitchen W8, Abingdon Road, Kensington

Kitchen W8 opened its doors to the community of Kensington & Chelsea in October 2009 aiming to become the local, go-to place. Two years later in 2011 the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star, a great achievement in such a short space of time. The restaurant strives to use only excellent ingredients which are sourced from small, reputable suppliers, how it does this and still serves up set-menus at rock bottom prices amazes me, I couldn’t even do it that cheap at home for this quality.

The decor in the restaurant is very modern, clean and fresh, it looks great but on a quiet lunchtime afternoon it can feel a bit cold and soulless. The food at kitchen W8 is British but with a little bit of French making its way on to the plates, a little je ne sais quoi! We did dine from the set menu at an incredible £19.50 for three courses, for dinner the same menu is £24.50. The bread that was brought to our table must have a mention, it was terrific. Incredibly light and airy with a texture similar to a crumpet, quite like nothing I’ve had before, but something I definitely want again.

We started our meal with the veloute of winter leeks and charlotte potatoes with brown shrimps, parsley and a side of cod's roe on toast. The veloute itself was very well executed and incredibly refined, a real depth of flavour and you could taste every ingredient individually. The brown shrimps worked perfectly and gave it a little saltiness, the small cod's roe on toast was good, but I didn’t see much point of it with the veloute, it was a little lost.

Parfait of foie gras with a puree of caramelized pink grapefruit, blood orange jelly and toasted sourdough was good solid dish. The parfait was extremely smooth and light and the topping of blood orange jelly was a nice touch but wasn’t that strong. The grapefruit puree was incredible and literally made my mouth water and went very well with the parfait, sour dough was perhaps the best I have ever had and the crust was delicious.

Up until about a year ago we rarely saw Pollock on menus, but after a lot of advertising and celebrity chefs pushing for us to eat sustainable fish I think it’s actually starting to work, people now know what Pollock is, and are happy to eat it, I’ve eaten a lot of fish that I’ve never even heard of recently but enjoyed. The fillet of Cornish Pollock with sweet mustard potatoes, baked beetroots and vinaigrette of smoked eel and apple all went very well together. The Pollock was cooked to perfection with a lovely crisp top, thinly sliced beetroots were soft, fresh and earthy and the vinaigrette I was expecting not to like, was very zingy, tasty, but a little acidic. Forget cod and haddock, it's all about Pollock, plus it's cheaper.

Chicken cooked well is harder to come by then you may think but here it is cooked perfectly. The pot roast spring chicken with garlic puree, creamed potato and chantenay carrots, was tiny! I can understand a starter being this small but this was a tasting menu size, and I didn’t order the tasting menu. On the plus side, the chicken skin was crisp, the meat buttery and juicy but not all over, a little inconsistent, some parts were moist, others dry, which was strange for such tiny pieces of chicken. Oh, and did I mention it was tiny?

Vanilla panna cotta with Yorkshire rhubarb and blood orange was perhaps the best part of the meal. It was served in a shallow wide bowl, as opposed to the normal deep round ramekin, it meant that all the lovely vanilla pods didn’t sink to the bottom and were evenly spread making each mouthful a little taste of heaven. The texture and flavour was delicious while the blood orange jelly decorated with more orange segments made this dish completely original to everywhere else. The rhubarb sorbet sat on small pockets of biscuit crumb. I’d love to re-create this dish at home, it was truly delicious.

The food at Kitchen W8 is very skilled and the you can definitely see why this restaurant is praised by the locals but unfortunately something didn’t quite work for me to come back, whether it was the lack of atmosphere or the food I’m not sure, I know they were awarded their Michelin star in 2011 but for me I couldn’t see that star coming through on the dishes. If you were looking for a restaurant with a Michelin star that’s affordable, this should definitely be your choice, it’s an absolute steal!

Square Meal Kitchen W8 on Urbanspoon

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