When Kitchen W8 came onto our radar back when it opened last month, we were intrigued by Philip Howard (chef and co-owner of the superb two-Michelin-starred The Square) and restaurateur Rebecca Mascarenhas’s concept of a restaurant that is a home away from home, a place that epitomised where they themselves (as well as their friends, family and colleagues) would like to frequent.
When the restaurant announced BYO Sunday evenings for the month of November we decided it was the perfect opportunity not only to sample what chef Mark Kempson has to offer, but also to dig out a few of our finer bottles for a relaxed evening with friends (the lovely A and S). So last night, with three bottles of Burgundy in hand, we made our way to the cosy (but polished) restaurant just off Kensington High St.
Our starters were quick to arrive, and mine – the Ravioli of Crab and Red Mullet with Squid, Cuttlefish, Octopus and Lemon – was a beautiful assembly of thin ink squid pasta and fresh, delicate flavours of the sea. Surprisingly, the much talked about Game Consommé with Bacon Cream (served with a small Game Hot Dog) which B ordered, was the least successful dish of the evening – the consommé was a little salty and although the hot dog was good, it was nothing special.
Our dining companions had the Foie Gras Mousse with Raisin Purée, Fruitbread and Parmesan, and the Game Terrine with Spiced pear Chutney and Sourdough Toast (not pictured). Both were delicious, but A’s foie gras was particularly exquisite – the mousse light and frothy, turning the usually heavy liver into something rather dreamy.
There was a brief lull between our first and second courses but it gave us plenty of time to catch up and also enjoy the wines from Burgundy B had picked out for the evening – a pleasant, buttery Meursault “Sous La Velle” 2004 from Domaine Michelot, and a side by side comparison of Clos de Vougeot; a 1996 from Domaine Hudelot-Noellat and a 2001 from Domaine Grivot. The 1996 was unfortunately slightly past its peak with the acidity overly prominent (as is characteristic of the way the vintage has been drinking in recent years) but the 2001 from Grivot was drinking nicely – well balanced with soft, rounded tannins and the typical finesse of a Grivot wine.
I am a big fan of offal and other unusual cuts, so could not resist ordering the Grilled Ox Tongue, Shallot Purée with a Foie Gras Baked Potato for my main. The tongue was nice and tender and the baked potato – which, not only was topped with a sizeable piece of seared foie gras but also stuffed with it, was sensational. My only gripe was that the cabbage on the plate was a touch over seasoned. B’s Roast Rump of Rose Veal was perfectly executed, the moist pink meat paired with a heavenly creamy Chanterelle Sauce, and accompanied with Spatzle and a Cauliflower Croquette.
As for A and S, they had nothing but good things to say about their dishes of Butternut Squash, Chanterelles and Red Wine Risotto with a Soft Poached Egg, and Aged Ayrshire Ribeye Steak with Smoked Red Wine Butter and Chips. Although portions were not monstrous by any means we were rather satisfied at this point so all opted for coffees instead of dessert, with the exception of B who had a cheese plate to pair with the remainder of his wine.
All in all it was an extremely enjoyable evening (helped along by the wonderful company) – the cooking was accomplished and considered, and a great deal more refined than we had expected (not exactly “home” cooking – unless of course, your home was that of a chef’s). It was also, as A commented throughout the meal, extremely good value. We will definitely be visiting again soon, and will be sure to save room for pudding – the Passion Fruit and Lime Mess with Brillat-Savarin Cream has my name written all over it!
Kitchen W8 Restaurant
11 Abingdon Road
London, W8 6AH
t. 0207 937 0120