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3 Hereford Road
As comfortable as your Uggs but twice as stylish, this trusted neighbourhood favourite is now an essential part of Notting Hill’s DNA, appealing to old hippies and new money alike. Tom Pemberton’s cooking nods to his background at St John, but it’s very much his own distinct take on things. Starters of Jerusalem artichokes with hazelnuts, quail with medlar jelly or lightly cooked duck livers tossed with capers, tarragon and green beans suggest British food handled with flair and integrity. To follow, there might be a tranche of hake with roast cauliflower and nutty brown butter, devilled kidneys with mash, roast game birds or steak and kidney pie to share, while wonderfully old-fashioned desserts include treacle tart, fruit crumble and custard or warm rice pudding with jam. Regulars make as beeline for the snug red-leather seating by the busy open grill, although there’s more space at the back with larger tables and illumination from the huge circular skylight. A few street-side tables are much in demand, whatever the weather.
StreetSmart - London restaurants
Best in Notting Hill
SquareMeal 2 Stars
3 Hereford Road
020 7727 1144
Royal Oak Tube Station 479m
Bayswater Tube Station 507m
U.C.I. Whiteleys 8 Cinema 403m
Westbourne Gardens 427m
Mon-Sun 12N-3pm (Sun -4pm) 6-10.30pm (Sun -10pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 2
I had had high hopes visiting Hereford Road, but found them mostly disappointed. Located on the site of a former butcher’s and with offal as its USP, I have been led to believe that Hereford Road might have the potential to be as west London equivalent of the ever-popular St. John. At 7pm on a recent Thursday evening, I certainly didn’t expect to be the first customer in the restaurant and as I sat down to survey my surroundings, I considered that whatever the place may have in its favour in terms of food, it would have to compensate amply for the palpable lack of atmosphere. Even if this initial assessment may appear too harsh, neither the overall feel of the place nor the food ever got going. At its peak that evening, the restaurant was barely half full and any voice much above normal volume registered abruptly. The tables are well-spaced and the light-well a nice touch, but probably to see Hereford Road at its best, you need a summer’s day with a few more customers present. Despite the fact that the staff were hardly rushed off their feet, all of those with whom we interacted seemed really to struggle in summoning enthusiasm for the job they were doing. When my dining comrade asked our server which of two mains she would recommend, her answer was hedged, evasive and half-hearted. I also overheard another server highlighting specials of the day to a nearby table, yet bafflingly, these were not offered to us. Had they been, I doubt whether my appraisal of the culinary output would have been any more effusive. The dishes we had were essentially unmemorable. My game paté starter was tasteless and lacking moisture. It could have comprised game or gammon and I might not have been any wiser. My onglet main became a chore to eat; the meat chewy and unrelenting. My comrade enjoyed the aesthetic presentation of his dishes but certainly did not lavish any notable praise on their taste. At ~£60/head (wine and service included), I was left distinctly feeling that my money could have been much better spent elsewhere.
I have been here several times previously and really lked it. Took a friend who was emigrating for a final UK meal & wanted somewhere British.
It was Sunday night. Many things on the menu were not available but we were not told that until we selected our food. Then again, after our second attempt at selection the same thing happened. A few things which weren't on the menu appeared – but after some inexplicable hesitation. We only found out venison was available after we'd tried unsuccessfully to order duck, pork belly and rabbit.. The waitress told us “its the end of the week, it happens , we just dont have much food left”. Understood, as a reality. However you go out to eat in order to avoid that kind of reality so it was not a clever thing to tell clients they are basically mopping up what's left.
The presentation of the food that was available was sloppy & unappetizing, although the food was s
tasty. A quail starter was just a quail slapped on a plate no garnish. Venison was sliced into random raggedy pieces resembling dog food chunks. I suspect they just booked too many tables that night but it wasn't fun being that one table too many and it being made so clear to us that was the case made for an uncomfortable evening. They offered free desserts to compensate but rushed us over them, clearing around us and removing my husbands wine before he had finished. I probably won't risk going again.
Food + drink: 4
If imitation is the most acceptable part of worship, then Tom Pemberton must worship Fergus Henderson. He used to work with the great man, and it shows, with Fergus’s influence being felt across everything in Hereford Road. Well, almost everything: whilst all three outposts of the St John’s Empire are minimalist white-on-white, HR has gone for a splash of colour. Not much of course, but the banquettes along one wall are red, and the walls ivory, rather than just white.
Entry to the restaurant, which is just off Westbourne Grove, is alongside the open kitchen, where Tom and his crew do not so much seem to be slaving away, as enjoying themselves. A huge rib of beef sits resting. Pans are ready, the grill is fired up and the room is starting to fill. There are tables along this alleyway, but the main restaurant is at the end, sunken down a few steps, light playing on the walls from the circular skylight.
Being May it is cold and wet, so any thoughts of light dishes or wines are out the door. Looking at what others have said, I really must come back in the game season. Today, however, is a day for red wine and a slice of that rib of beef.
The service is the only thing that didn’t really quite work for me, a complaint that I have had before about St John’s. It isn’t rude, it’s just a bit slow; a bit too relaxed, with not enough attention for so many tables. Having got our order in (eighteen minute wait for the quail, we are told), we cracked open the wine list.
Like too few restaurants these days, the wine list is short and on the cheaper side. Nothing standout, no trophy wines, but some good regional French reds. Just what we were looking for: a cheeky shiraz/viognier to start, some serious Portuguese and a classic claret to round off. All in the twenties.
The menu is as you’d expect from Modern British; short on description, big on fresh, seasonal produce. Nettle soup, beetroot and asparagus on the starter list, guinea fowl, rabbit and lemon sole on the main. If you want sides, there are greens and boiled spuds.
We ended up starting with one of the lighter numbers, the sweetbreads with green beans and mint, which was superb: crunchy on the outside, soft and meting within. Asparagus too, with some slivers of what looked like parmesan, but turned out to be Coolea, an Irish cows milk cheese. Not as harsh as parmesan, and certainly as pleasant atop the grilled spears. And then that quail, simply roasted with some shaved radishes; eighteen minutes in preparation, several fewer in ingestion.
The mains too were fantastic: a seriously thick slab of pork belly, proper crackling, some sprouting broccoli and a dribble of cooking juice, and a thick slice of rib, red on the inside, with some root veg and horseradish cream. As a side, some greens.
I’m not usually a dessert kind of chap, preferring the tangy delights of a well stocked (and preferably smelly) cheese trolley, but the chocolate pave with honeycomb sounded too good to pass up. It was as good as it sounds; dark, dark chocolate, with light honeycomb crunches on top – a posh Crunchie bar.
I really have no desire to live in this part of town but, if I did, then this would be a most welcome local. Not fancy, not a destination restaurant, not a place for a first date, but a solid, reliable place, with good, honest cooking at really good prices. I wish they’d move near to where I live.
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