Best restaurants in Kensington

Looking for a restaurant in Kensington? We’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to, and compiled a handy list of the best restaurants in Kensington. Whatever your budget or taste, SquareMeal is here to help, with a selection of the best restaurants for every occasion. Read on for our pick of the top restaurants in W8.

Updated on 24 August 2018

Zaika of Kensington

Zaika of Kensington

1 High street Kensington, London, W8 5NP

From its spectacular gothic setting (formerly a bank) to its regionally accented cooking, Zaika has carved out its own niche among the capital’s Indian restaurants. Dominated by high ceilings and wood panels, the interior has a whiff of Hogwarts about it, albeit with a large central cocktail bar. It makes a suitably regal setting for the kitchen’s speciality, the Awadhi cuisine of Lucknow in north India. Many dishes are cooked slowly over charcoal flames, giving a gentle smokiness to the likes of fish curry with ginger and coconut or murgh handi lazeez (a creamy chicken speciality flavoured with tomatoes and cashews). Elsewhere, expect Awadhi-style kebabs loaded with lamb, cheese, and garlic, plus fine-dining riffs such as seared scallops with puffed rice or grilled lobster with garlic and mango. All the usual sides and naans are present and correct, while wines have been picked to withstand the spice.

£30 - £49
Indian
Yashin Sushi

Yashin Sushi

1a Argyll Road, London, 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.

£50 - £79
Sushi
Japanese
Cambio de Tercio

Cambio de Tercio

163 Old Brompton Road, London, 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.

£50 - £79
Spanish
£30 - £49
Min Jiang at the Royal Garden Hotel

Min Jiang at the Royal Garden Hotel

Royal Garden Hotel, 2-24 Kensington High Street, London, 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.

£50 - £79
Chinese
Dim Sum
Zuaya

Zuaya

35 High Street Kensington, London, London, W8 5BA

Savvy diners may have reached peak Peruvian, but this classy newcomer shows a broader view of Latin American cooking courtesy of Spanish chef, Francisco Lafee. His back story includes world-famous Basque restaurants such as El Celler de Can Roca, but this London outing features Mexican street food and hearty Brazilian stews, clever riffs on ceviches and tiraditos with prime fish and meat from the robata grill.

The cooking is ambitious, but supremely skilful and modern: try tuna tartare with crisp seaweed, avocado and a Chinese-influenced dressing involving hoisin, lime, garlic and ginger oil. Sea bream ceviche with Peruvian corn is served warm to contrast with sweet-potato ice cream, while Zuaya’s version of crispy duck salad involves slices of Ibérico duck in a super-light tempura with watermelon, raspberry and a sauce of cloves, fennel, cinnamon and Szechuan pepper.

Elsewhere, a mighty piece of sizzling grilled octopus arrives with smooth potato cream and vibrant chimichurri sauce, while chunks of suckling pork belly are served in a rich stew of Peruvian pepper, chillis and tamarind. For pudding, we suggest ‘quindim’, a medley of coconut textures presented in the shell.  

No expense has been spared on the interiors, with jungle foliage and a handsome cocktail bar of brass and marble dominating the ground floor. Downstairs is much larger, full of romantic details and cosy corners; also check out the peaceful outdoor terrace.

£50 - £79
South American
Romulo Café

Romulo Café

343 Kensington High Street, London, London, W8 6NW

A Filipino specialist at the ‘wrong’ end of Kensington High Street might not sound like a recipe for foodie success but Romulo Café is well worth putting aside your preconceptions for. For a start, it’s not a Café – this is a proper restaurant, complete with marble-topped tables and charming owners who are happy to talk newcomers through the long menu.

Then there’s the family pedigree. Carlos P Romulo was a Pulitzer prize-winning Philippine ambassador to the USA and Romulo Café is the brainchild of his grandchildren. This London outpost is the first beyond the Philippines and follows three well-established Romulos in the Metro Manila area.

And of course there’s the cooking itself, which is miles away from the fast-food ethos of Filipino fried-chicken sensation Jollibee down the road in Earl’s Court. The cooking is best described as South East Asian food with Spanish and American influences. Some of it might sound strange, but for every smoked fish spring roll or taro flan there’s hot-smoked Scottish salmon or tofu and enoki salad – plus fried chicken, as crisp-skinned as you’d hope and with a punchy adobe mayonnaise.

Elsewhere we enjoyed pork hock spiked with a tomato shrimp sauce and spicy vinegar, bao buns filled with confit duck leg, and vanilla cheesecake dyed purple with yam. And while some of it might taste a bit odd – grilled aubergine encased in tomato and drizzled with a salted egg-yolk dressing was a taste we didn’t acquire – it’s never less than interesting.

Afternoon tea, set menus and quick lunches broaden Romulo’s appeal, and rest assured that that if you over-order, the very friendly staff will box up any leftovers for you to take home.

£30 - £49
South East Asian
Maggie Jones

Maggie Jones's

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.

£30 - £49
British
£50 - £79
Clarke

Clarke's

122 Kensington Church Street, London, 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.
£50 - £79
Modern European
The Ivy Kensington Brasserie

The Ivy Kensington Brasserie

96 Kensington High Street, London, W8 4SG

It’s hard to imagine a better match than old-money Kensington for the latest roll-out of the Richard Caring brand. As with the original Ivy, the feel here is of a classic dining establishment: white tablecloths, suited or apron-clad waiting staff, beautifully old-school, dark-wood-and-brass styling, idiosyncratic Victorian artwork. But with shining floors, higher ceilings and a wall of windows, the brasserie label suits. On the menu, the Ivy blueprint of unchallenging all-day international comfort food remains – including the classic shepherd’s pie and chicken Milanese. Each dish we ordered satisfied, from an aromatic duck curry feathered with coconut shavings to a pleasing combination of mozzarella, roasted squash, chilli, pumpkin and mint. Set menus underline the good value, and a wine list offers interest across the price range. The Ivy name is arguably being diluted with each new sparkling branch, but with such a winning formula we’re struggling to begrudge the invasion.

£30 - £49
Brasserie
Kitchen W8

Kitchen W8

11-13 Abingdon Road, London, 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.

£50 - £79
Modern European
One michelin star
The Belvedere

The Belvedere

Off Abbotsbury Road, Holland Park, London, 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.

£50 - £79
Modern European
£50 - £79
Bombay Brasserie

Bombay Brasserie

Courtfield Road, London, 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”.

£50 - £79
Indian
£30 - £49
Raj of Kensington

Raj of Kensington

1 Abingdon Road, London, W8 6AH

Tucked off Kensington High Street, this unassuming spot offers the classic neighbourhood Indian restaurant experience, but its food transcends the curry-house norm. The simple low-ceilinged dining room features beige leather chairs and white table linen: pleasant if hardly inspiring. In contrast, the food bursts with distinctive flavours in such dishes as pan-fried tiger prawns soaked in cider; or prune- and pepper-stuffed paneer kebab (grilled until crisp at the edges). Tandoori dishes and regulation main courses – rogan josh, butter chicken, lamb biryani – cost around £13, but it’s worth trying regional specialities such as Mangalorean chicken with curry leaves and coconut milk, or the chef’s specials: perfectly moist, pan-seared Gressingham duck breast, for instance, served with mustard-seed sauce and lemon rice. Well-considered cocktails are another forte, though the wine list has limited by-the-glass options. Service is rather serious (yet thorough), but overall Raj is a solid choice if you’re in the area.

£30 - £49
Indian
The Shed

The Shed

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.”

£30 - £49
British
Chakra Holland Street

Chakra Holland Street

33c Holland Street, London, 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.

 

£50 - £79
Indian
Launceston Place

Launceston Place

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. 

£50 - £79
Modern European
£30 - £49
Enoteca Rosso

Enoteca Rosso

276-280 Kensington High Street, London, W8 6ND

This chic new Italian brings a very different take on the comforting formula of pasta and cheap red wine. This is an enoteca, a specialist wine shop with hundreds of bottles lining the walls and knowledgeable staff to guide you. You can taste and buy wines as well as sample authentic, imaginative Italian food ranging from plates of charcuterie and cheeses to salads and gutsy meat dishes such as wild boar stew.

 

The kitchen offers a refined take on pasta dishes such as saffron tagliatelle with lamb ragu and fine shavings of raspadura cheese (similar to Grana Padano); chestnut gnocchi with a luscious pumpkin and rosemary sauce; and a dramatic black ravioli filled with burrata, sundried tomatoes and pesto. Most dishes come in three sizes, making it easy to try a wide variety along with suggested wines to do them justice. The large room is welcoming and informal, with seating at different levels; perch at a counter by the windows, occupy a large sharing table or settle into cosy seats for supper with friends or a date night.

£30 - £49
Italian
Melabes

Melabes

221 Kensington High Street, London, W8 6SG

This newcomer might look like a café for take outs, but the food at Melabes is far better than the casual setting suggests. The bustling ground-floor, with its brick walls, filament bulbs, bistro chairs and green banquettes is the natural place to drop in for lunch, but make the effort to go upstairs and you’ll find a proper dining room if you have time to linger. House speciality pitta (baked in house) is the natural lunch option, from a properly made beef and lamb kebab heady with tahini to a not-for-the-fainthearted banana and toffee number, but we’d recommend coming in the evening (Melabes is licensed) and constructing a mezze meal of three or four decently sized plates.

Excellent hummus comes with even-better chilli and lemon sauce for pitta dipping, chunky falafel taste fresh rather than too fried, while ‘arias’ involve triangles of toasted pittas deep filled with spring onion and minced lamb. Vegan-friendly options include a hunk of chargrilled cauliflower and a beautifully textured coconut and rose-water dessert that manages to be both sweet and refreshing; we also loved the fresh mint and lemongrass tea. Down at the bottom end of High Street Ken, Melabes is the perfect lunch spot if you’re visiting the nearby Design Museum, or you could construct a lovely spread to take-away and picnic on in Holland Park over the road.

Middle Eastern