33c Holland Street, W8 4LX
Having built up a solid following in Notting Hill Gate, Chakra has uprooted and moved to Kensington’s quaint Holland Street. For us, it’s a deft move, ditching their former bling-filled premises in favour of this pretty, muted corner site, which comes complete with a charming outdoor terrace.
It creates the ideal setting for some rather sophisticated Indian cooking that takes its cue from the subcontinent’s royal kitchens. Our pimped-up kulcha arrived topped with decadent flecks of black truffle and wild mushroom, soon upstaged by a plate of plump tiger prawns marinated with lightly spicy chilli powder, and served with yoghurt and tomato coulis for liberal dipping.
After that, we were taken with a main of Khubani Murgh: gently braised chicken breast smothered in an apricot and nutmeg onion sauce, which provided a delightful clash of flavours. Chakra isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here, but there are flashes of adjusting to modern tastes via an impressive selection of vegan and vegetarian options. Afternoon tea, brunch and set lunch menus are also available, while the Euro-leaning wine list is supported by classic cocktails.
More detail about Chakra Holland Street
1a Launceston Place, London, W8 5RL
Launceston Place has a long-standing tradition of employing chefs whose stars are on the rise, so it’s no surprise that readers deem it “the perfect canvas for new incumbent Ben Murphy’s exquisite cooking”. The tastefully refreshed, muted grey dining rooms of this 1830s townhouse provide a suitable backdrop for the chef’s generous carte and tasting menus, which are more than a match for the setting – witness the humble carrot wondrously transformed with lovage and caraway, pristine brill with verjus and turnips, rosy ibérico presa alongside crisp confit potato and steamed aubergine or an intricate chocolate sphere pointed up with yuzu and sesame. Elsewhere, a luxe reinvention of ‘egg and soldiers’ and an irresistible celeriac ‘carbonara’ draped in silky lardo both tip a witty hat to the classics – yes, this is tasteful flavour-first stuff and a “treat for any gourmand”. A bargain set lunch makes the whole experience affordable, the cheese trolley is a show-stopper, and the broadly chosen but inclusively priced wine list suggests a real passion for the subject – note the “exceptionally daring” pairings.
More detail about Launceston Place
11-13 Abingdon Road, London, W8 6AH
Readers regularly give a big thumbs-up to this “high-quality” Michelin-starred act – a collaboration between restaurateurs Phil Howard (ex-The Square) and Rebecca Mascarenhas (Sonny's Kitchen). From the “smart”, muted interiors, decked out with circular mirrors and tasteful artwork, to the first-rate service, Kitchen W8 has the same ‘neighbourhood-cum-destination’ feel as sibling The Ledbury. The team’s “outstanding” take on contemporary European cuisine rarely turns up a dud dish, from the crunchy tapioca crackers served as an amuse-bouche to wafer-thin slices of smoked eel paired with grilled mackerel, golden beetroot and sweet mustard sauce, or loin of Ibérico pork with hay-roasted carrots, spiced almonds, apricot and bulgur wheat. To conclude, Swiss roll with raspberry ripple ice cream and lemon verbena delivers a hit of exquisitely refined comfort food. The set lunch is reckoned to be one of the “best-value Michelin menus” in London, while wines rely heavily on the Old World. “Will we go back? You bet!” chimes one contented diner.
More detail about Kitchen W8
6 Old Court Place, London, W8 4PL
With its hotchpotch of trinkets, high-backed antique pews, wicker baskets, dried flowers and dripping candles in wine bottles, redoubtable Maggie Jones’s looks like a set from a Richard Curtis film – although the food “feels like it predates Four Weddings and a Funeral”. Appropriately, the kitchen plays it straight, and the cooking is old-school British to the core – think asparagus with vinaigrette, steak and kidney pie or stuffed roast chicken with bread sauce. Fish fans might go for grilled salmon with hollandaise and there’s game in season too, while old-fashioned desserts could feature Cambridge burnt cream, apple crumble or bread-and-butter pudding. French house wine is served from a magnum, and diners are merely charged for what they drink – a cute touch. Added to that, Maggie’s “friendly prices”, set deals and easy-going charms ensure regular full houses.
More detail about Maggie Jones's
122 Palace Gardens Terrace, London, W8 4RT
The Shed has clearly been galvanised by the success of its King’s Road sibling Rabbit, and it remains a haven for “happy and joyful” noshing. Devised and run by three foodie brothers, it packs all sorts of cheery locals into a long, colourful dining room that creates a “bit of the country in central London” – note the bar fashioned out of a tractor bonnet. The kitchen deals in “English-style tapas”, with produce garnered from the owners' farm and lots of artisan ingredients thrown into the mix. Deliciously crafted canapés (aka ‘mouthfuls’) are an “absolute delight” (try the pulled venison with lovage), while the rest of the menu is divided between ‘slow’ and ‘fast’ cooking – from paprika cuttlefish with black beans, sweet chilli and fennel to Nutbourne lamb with iron-bark pumpkin, braised shallots and reindeer moss. Cheery staff are on hand to share the fun. “A winner.”
More detail about The Shed
1a Argyll Road, London, W8 7DB
From its bijou space off High Street Ken, this little gem of a restaurant foregoes the culinary pyrotechnics of its nearby sibling, Ocean House, to concentrate on simple, masterfully crafted sushi. Take a seat at the handsome, green-tiled bar or head downstairs to the sleeker monochrome dining room, and indulge in a menu crafted by two Nobu-trained chefs. From the stunning, melt-in-the-mouth Hida Wagyu carpaccio to a beautiful salad of dressed baby octopus, seaweed and cherry tomato, flavours are pin-sharp and ingredients second to none. Also, we urge trusting the chefs when it comes to soy sauce: items such as yellowtail nigiri and yasai maki rolls with asparagus tempura come judiciously brushed with the condiment to avoid drowning out other flavours. Saké is a big deal here, with regular masterclasses on offer, while the pithy wine list has some interesting options – although, like everything here, prices are on the high side.
More detail about Yashin Sushi
Courtfield Road, SW7 4QH
As it enters its 35th year, the Bombay Brasserie is as popular as ever, maintaining its status by virtue of impeccable service and stately, modern interiors – complete with a sleek bar area, a “breathtakingly beautiful” chandelier, a resident pianist and a plant-filled conservatory that channels the spirit of a Raj-era Indian. However, its real selling point is the kitchen’s evergreen ability to transfer Mumbai melting-pot cuisine to a fine-dining setting in London. The signature palak patta chaat (a creamy, tangy, crunchy bowl of crispy fried spinach, yoghurt, date and tamarind chutney) is still peerless, gently spiced seekh kebabs are masterfully cooked in the tandoor oven, and Keralan halibut curry is a wonderful homage to the region’s sublime seafood. To finish, cool off with an “intensely flavoured” mango and kulfi or nibble on the caramel brittle (chikki). Just add “unique and delicious cocktails” for a “wonderful evening out”.
More detail about Bombay Brasserie
163 Old Brompton Road, London, SW5 0LJ
It might be rolling into its third decade, but “Abel Lusa’s masterpiece gets better every year”, according to one of his many loyal customers. There’s nothing old-fashioned about this “incredibly authentic” and wildly underrated Brompton Road flagship of the sophisticated Cambio mini-chain – a venue whose fizzing energy is fuelled by a packed dining room, clued-up staff and a constantly evolving menu. Regulars rave about must-order classics, such as the hollowed-out ‘nuevas’ patatas bravas filled with spicy tomato and alioli, but there’s also an excellent-value tasting menu, featuring innovations such as a riff on gazpacho involving tomato ‘water’ cherry sorbet, cod brandade and cristal bread or spicy suckling pig meatballs with crunchy ear, poached skate and Colombian tamarillo. Just as exciting are the “very long” all-Spanish wine list and the treasure-trove of gins and sherries – thanks to sibling bars C. Tonic and Capote y Toros, where you can continue the fiesta with live flamenco.
More detail about Cambio de Tercio
Off Abbotsbury Road, Holland Park, W8 6LU
Beautifully positioned and immaculately maintained, the enchanting Belvedere comes complete with rose gardens, lawns, fountains and peacocks – plus one of our favourite terraces, within listening distance of the Holland Park Opera. Once a ballroom, the main restaurant feels rejuvenated following its makeover by the late David Collins – a romantic, double-height space with mirrored screens, silk curtains and a huge baroque mirror, plus the odd piece of modern Brit artwork. The kitchen sends out scrubbed-up Anglo-European starters including asparagus with poached quails’ eggs ahead of classic mains ranging from plaice meunière with sauce choron to grilled veal cutlet with gratin dauphinoise, mushroom and Madeira jus. It’s not cutting edge, but desserts such as raspberry and almond tart with clotted cream prove that cooking like this can last the ages.
More detail about The Belvedere
Royal Garden Hotel, 2-24 Kensington High Street, London, W8 4PT
It’s hard to talk about Min Jiang without mentioning the view: 10 floors up on the fringes of Hyde Park, it’s a mesmerising prospect. Now fast approaching its 10th birthday, this venue has become one of London’s slickest operators, a top-end Chinese decked out with mirrored panels, oriental screens and classical pottery, dealing in scrubbed-up but authentic Szechuan and Cantonese cuisine. The star of the show – and one of our guiltiest treats in the capital – is the Beijing duck, presented in three servings. No doctor is going to recommend the crispy skin dipped in fine sugar but, boy, is it good – likewise the traditional pancake wraps, lettuce parcels and alternatives such as salted vegetable soup with duck and tofu. Elsewhere, baskets of steamed dim sum are a beauty to behold, while rib-eye in a sticky black pepper sauce is sweet and soothing. To drink, put your trust in the sommelier’s pick from an Old World-leaning wine list.
More detail about Min Jiang at the Royal Garden Hotel
122 Kensington Church Street, W8 4BH
A grown-up restaurant in every sense of the word, Sally Clarke’s eponymous eatery has been a fixture hereabouts for almost 35 years, yet there’s no chance of it showing its age. The menu has an enduring simplicity, with seasonal dishes showcasing first-class ingredients – as in a starter of Dorset crab with peppery watercress and new season’s peas and broad beans. Clarke’s early penchant for Californian chargrilling has given way to a fondness for sprightly Mediterranean flavours: leg and saddle of lamb come with raisins and pine nuts, while Cornish turbot is roasted on the bone with a sauce of Prosecco, chives and dill. To finish, there are gloriously unassuming desserts such as soft vanilla meringue with peaches and elderflower cream. Eating from the carte isn’t cheap, but Sally’s legendary set menu is still a bargain and the well-rounded wine list offers rich pickings by the glass.
More detail about Clarke's