Evoluzione Restaurant, Hotel Xenia, Kensington

The blurb

Part of the Autograph Collection, Xenia Hotel, in Kensington, is named after the ancient Greek concept of hospitality, whereby generosity and courtesy is shown to those far away from home. From the moment the door was opened by the concierge, to the moment it was closed behind me, I felt incredibly welcomed and looked after by all of the staff – even the chef, Andrea Angeletti. Angeletti is the head chef at Evoluzione, the hotel’s contemporary Italian restaurant, bringing the traditional flavours of his heritage to modern-day dishes, using bold flavours and seasonal produce.

The style

The hotel is traditionally decorated, with high ceilings, modern furniture and a chrome colour scheme throughout. The main restaurant is split into two areas; the first offering more relaxed dining, with large armchairs, perfect for sinking into, while the second is slightly more formal. There’s also a large terrace, ideal for spilling out onto during the summer months. In addition to the restaurant, there are also two bars in the hotel, as well as a secluded courtyard – perfect for pre-dinner drinks in both the summer and winter months.

The crowd

With the hotel just a walk away from the Victoria and Albert Museum, in Knightsbridge, this hotel is a great location for those visiting the area and the crowd in the restaurant very much echoes this. Predominantly hotel guests, Evoluzione is yet to be discovered by a wider audience, making this a hidden gem and one well worth travelling for.

The food

Before dining in the restaurant, we enjoyed a glass of champagne in the courtyard. It was a beautiful sunny evening but had it been cooler, there are heaters and blankets to keep warm. By the time it came to ordering the food, I had already had a long look at the menu but even so, I always like to ask the waiting staff for their favourites. On the waitress’s recommendation, we selected the beef steak tartar to start, served with melon, a parmesan biscuit and a smooth and creamy avocado ice cream, as well as the stuffed squid with ‘pappa al Pomodoro’, prawns and a black ink sauce – the squid was perfectly cooked, with a texture almost like pasta rather than shellfish.

For our mains, we chose to try two of the chefs’ contemporary dishes with an Italian twist, roasted duck breast, with a burnt onion crust and a forest berry sauce, which was both sweet and tart, and the Monkfish ‘in potacchio’ – an Italian style tomato sauce and Angeletti’s original recipe. The generous portion of meaty monkfish was delicious, however, I couldn’t help thinking that had the bacon been crispy, it would have elevated the whole dish. Feeling slightly unsatisfied with our mains, we decided to try one of the chef’s homemade pasta dishes. Angeletti kindly made us two small portions of the white rabbit ragu and crispy squid gnocchi, delivering them to our table personally. Each bite was as delicious as the next, the gnocchi so soft and fluffy, providing a wonderful, contrasting texture to the meaty rabbit and crunchy squid.

Somehow finding room for dessert, we tried the chef’s show-stopping ‘Hi Muma, I brought the new flower pot’ – a white chocolate plant pot, filled with a coffee mousse, salted caramel ice cream and mascarpone, topped with chocolate soil. It was served with a watering can of hazelnut liquor, which the waitress generously poured over the top – there’s also a dessert called ‘Sorry Muma, I dropped the flower pot’, which looked just as indulgent.

In a nutshell

Whether you’re stopping by for a drink or food, Hotel Xenia is well worth a visit. The brilliant service, relaxed atmosphere and traditional Italian flavours make this a place you want to return to – I will definitely be back, and I will be ordering the pasta.

The details

+44 (0)20 7442 4242 
160 Cromwell Road London, SW5 0TL, UK

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