Orasay is the definition of a neighbourhood gem. Trademark tells include infinitely stylish interiors that simultaneously give the impression of not trying too hard, and a clientele of regulars who seem blithely au fait with the staff and menu. It’s also located in the most neighbourhood-y of neighbourhoods. A mere hair’s breadth from Portobello Road deep in the heart of Notting Hill, its cream-coloured facade practically screams, ‘I’m cool as hell, but I’m not going to brag about it’. It's been open for over four years now, and we’d argue that it’s still one of the trendiest places to eat in west London.
A huge proportion of the restaurant's appeal should be owed to head chef Jackson Boxer, who’s been with the restaurant since the beginning. His dishes are clever, subtle and nuanced, from smoky grilled squid served with glossy onions and a mellow hazelnut sauce, to a sprightly combination of raw sea bass and peppery rocket in a zesty miso and olive oil dressing. Dishes come and go with the seasons, but one that sticks is the grilled potato bread, fantastically squashy, topped with whipped cod’s roe, citrus and chives. ’It never leaves the menu’, jokes our waiter, to which we exhale a small sigh of relief. Fragile strands of fresh tagliolini coated in a rich crab sauce are deftly balanced with lemon and chilli. Elsewhere, crispy-skinned cod is bathed in a pool of yellow sauce, similar to a thinned-out hollandaise, while notes of ginger and wild garlic add a third dimension. For dessert, smooth textures of chocolate and caramel find crunchy partners in the form of roasted hazelnuts and a paper-thin caramel shard.
To drink, an artsy wine list includes all your unfiltered, organic, orange and barrel-fermented types, alongside easy drinkers. It also helpfully explains the characteristics of each bottle for the less discerning amongst us. We'd argue Orasay is pretty pricey by any normal person’s standards, but if you’re electing to eat in Notting Hill, you should know the score by now. And at least you can guarantee a spectacular meal in return.