Integral to Kitchen W8’s enduring charm is its ability not to overcomplicate things. We imagine that retaining a Michelin star for as long as it has elicits a certain degree of pressure to reinvent oneself from time to time, but co-owners Phil Howard and Rebecca Mascarenhas have stuck to their guns, and for that we’re extremely grateful.
Their dream was for Kitchen W8 to be a ‘home away from home’ when they launched it in 2009, which it still is now. White tablecloths are the only real reminder that we’re in a high class, central-Kensington establishment, while muted tones and glowy lighting create a relaxed, living room-esque dining space. Integral to this unwavering neighbourhood feel is its clientele of regulars, which we deduced by a number of solo diners who were clearly popping in for a glass of wine and a main from head chef Mark Kempson’s sophisticated menu.
Kempson’s ability to astound with simplicity is surely one of the best things about Kitchen W8. Our three-course dinner began with three delicate disks of lobster ravioli, enveloped in beautifully thin handmade pasta and topped with lightly pickled cubes of apple. This dainty creation was then destroyed with aplomb as our waitress poured over an utterly addictive pool of shellfish bisque, submerging the lot. Next, a flaky piece of cod partnered with dinky pieces of farfalle pasta and neat little cubes of salty sausage, were doused in a heady tarragon butter sauce soaking every bite in glossy richness. To finish, a still-warm apricot bakewell tart accompanied by softly-sweet honey and camomile ice cream and a puddle of apricot coulee was the understated, plate-licking finale the meal needed.
It’s possible to dine on three courses for less than £35 a head if you opt for the set menu, although you’re looking closer to £50 if you’re dining a la carte. But for the quality of food, flawless service and its upmarket postcode, Kitchen W8 is one of the best-value Michelin-starred restaurants in London.