electric diner
'The diner-style layout of the place instils a buzzing atmosphere'

Electric Diner

Open Mon–Wed 8am–midnight, Thu–Sat 8am–1am, Sun 8am–11pm

At first glance, Notting Hill’s Electric Diner appears to promise the classic American diner experience. Usually, however, the classic American diner experience tends to involve unremarkable food at affordable prices in a largely cookie-cutter (if vibrant) setting. It makes you think of things like Back to the Future or Grease but, apart from the novelty, rarely impresses when it comes to the quality of the grub on offer.

The Electric Diner, however, is a diner in branding only. Owned by Soho House and perched right in the middle of Portobello Road, the diner—which, if you know the area, is adjacent to the Electric Cinema—is more of a typical west London restaurant dressed up to look like one of the U.S.’s typical homely eateries. Inside, you’ve got your red leather booths and open kitchen by the bar, so layout-wise we can’t fault it—but the restaurant is warmly lit, walled by brick on one side and adorned with photographs of American life in the 21st century. In a place like this, you’re better off ordering a bottle of Vermentino than a chocolate milkshake.

The food is neither affordable nor unremarkable. To start, the mozzarella sticks (£8) were satisfyingly ample, accompanied by a decent tomato relish (no salsa here) and, most importantly, were crispy enough outside and gooey enough inside to justify the order. The rye toast with chicken liver and pickled onion (£6) is about as far as you can get from traditional diner scran, but was suitably fresh and zesty, thanks largely to a little twist of lemon. If nothing else, it’s good to know the Electric Diner can do fine dining fare as well as it does the diner stuff.

electric diner philly chilli dog

Next, my honey-fried chicken (£16) was rich and sweet, though neither too rich nor too sweet, and benefited greatly from the liberal application of sesame seeds to prevent that honey sauce from overpowering the dish. My guest’s Philly chilli cheese dog (£12) was, while decently-sized and certainly faithful to the Philadelphia recipe, perhaps not quite worth that price tag.

Elsewhere, our fries on the side (£5) were adequate and the mac ‘n’ cheese (£6) was—no joke—probably the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. Special mention should go, too, to the portion sizes: the honey-fried chicken especially was more than enough for one, and the appetisers were plentiful enough to share between two.

The Electric Diner seems a popular choice for locals, rammed full on a rainy midweek evening, and the diner-style layout of the place instils a kind of buzzing atmosphere to the place when it’s busy, which is always nice. Other than that: the staff were friendly, the drinks menu is extensive and you get discounts on your bill if you’re going to the cinema next door. As a Notting Hill restaurant, it’s good. As a pre- or post-cinema treat, I’d heartily recommend it. As a diner, however, be aware: it’s really not what it looks like.

The details:

Electric Diner, 191 Portobello Road, London W11; 020 7908 9696; www.electricdiner.com

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