Kitchen W8 restaurant
Kitchen W8 'combines good food with a warm and friendly atmosphere'

Kitchen W8

Mon–Sat midday–2.30pm and 6pm–10.30pm; Sun 12.20pm–3pm and 6.30pm–10pm

Kitchen W8 has only been open four months, but it has already attracted a hoard of interest from the press and local diners alike. The joint creation of Michelin-starred chef Philip Howard (The Square), and doyenne of the ‘neighbourhood restaurant’ Rebecca Mascarenhas, it certainly manages to combine good food with a warm and friendly atmosphere.

On a Wednesday lunch it was full with retired couples making the most of the special set menu (£19.50 for three courses), ladies lunching and families splashing out. The decor is a palette of greys and browns with the occasional bright accessory to lift the colour range and a big mirror to enlarge the feeling of space. They have done a lot with a relatively small space, which feels even more condensed due to the low ceilings, but the large number of tables does not impinge on the dining experience. In fact it seems to add to the cosy atmosphere. Being in close proximity to people who are enjoying themselves is always uplifting and not having to shout to be heard above the normal high-ceilinged cacophony is a real treat.

I started with a Bloody Mary, my favourite lunchtime treat, which was delicious but rather too large for an aperitif to a three-course lunch. However, ravioli of chicken and wild mushroom with melted onions and trompettes de la mort (£9) was delicious, although not sensational. The flavours were lost among each other and the textures too similar. My dining partner had thinly sliced smoked eel with grilled mackerel, leek hearts and sweet mustard (£8.50) which was delightful. Well presented in geometric lines of fish and circular dabs of sauce, the combination worked well, especially the eel, which, being thinly sliced, stopped it tasting overly fatty. The vegetarian options did not look as strong; we wondered how the kitchen could make green salad, shallot and herbs with dressing worth £7.

The main course menu is equally vegetarian unfriendly; half fish and half meat with one proper veggie option; a vegetable fricassee at £15. However, not being afflicted with vegetarianism I had roast Icelandic cod, caramelised trotter, savoy cabbage and lentils (£16). The accompaniments and sauce were delicious, if a bit heavy for lunchtime, but I felt that the cod was overpowered by its sweet and rich plate-fellows. It is difficult to mix fish and meat successfully and this just didn’t quite get the best out of both. My friend had smoked haunch of Berkshire venison, roast Jerusalem artichokes and Swiss chard (£19). It was a perfectly balanced dish – lots of meat, but without too many extras. Apart from previously tasting a freshly shot deer, it was the best venison she’d had.

I have started salivating already just thinking about the dessert; warm bitter chocolate pudding with hazelnut praline and vanilla ice-cream (£7.50) was out of this world. Rich but light, sweet but not sickly, comforting but not stodgy, upmarket but not pretentious – divine. My rhubarb fool with blood orange sorbet (£6.50) was good but unfortunately was out-done by the chocolate. The sorbet saved it from being too creamy but it lacked the wow factor.

If you want to go somewhere that is achingly flashy and trendy or where you can get good food for bargain prices then W8 is not the place for you. It isn’t cheap but the right dishes are worth it. I would definitely go back for the pudding alone and be wiser in my choices.

Meal for two around £80.

Kitchen W8, 11–13 Abingdon Road, W8;; 020 7937 0120

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