'Duck breast turned up blushing, the ginger and lemongrass jus it came with a smart pairing'

MK Bar and Grill

Mon–Fri 11am–11pm, Sat–Sun 8.30am–11pm

“This feels very Kensington,” said the other half as we strolled into MK, close to Gloucester Road. For a Friday night it was pretty calm, maybe because, being such a big place, it would take quite a few bodies to fill it. The advantage of that is space, of course—no danger of having a waiter’s bum butting into your back here.

It’s also very brown (floors and tables), set off with taupe chairs, so feels a little like a hotel restaurant. Being in this part of Kensington, it’s also prime hunting territory for snaring the tourists and that’s how it felt; this is no cosy neighbourhood local.

A bourbon sour had the required jolt of strong booze after a long week but was declared not tart enough by the wife. Two starters turned up in skillets. The first, jumbo tiger prawns in white wine, chilli, garlic and lemon (£7.95) was decent enough but trying the sauce with the spoon the waitress brought was a bad idea—the chilli was too much as a soup. Chorizo with chickpeas and lentils (£6.50) was a comforting mini stew, the peas crumbling very satisfyingly in the mouth.

Both were tapas-like in nature but lacked authenticity. The restaurant is described as a brasserie, but the menu is a little all over the place trying to guess what an international audience might want to eat, so though you can find onion soup and steak, the Italian and Chinese dishes also present make strange bedfellows.

It’s spring so a special of lamb cutlets (£16.95) seemed like a good idea and it was, turning up good and pink but with no sauce. Asking for mustard prompted the mint sauce it was advertised as coming with. An accompanying crispy parmesan potato was a winner. Duck breast (£14.50) also turned up blushing and the ginger and lemongrass jus it came with was a smart pairing. Both our dishes had broccolini, which I thought was pretentious menu language but turns out is an actual thing (essentially: smaller, stringier broccoli).

We liked that that they had sectioned up the wines into ‘easy drinking’, ‘we like’ and ‘treat yourself’ and the service, apart from that sauce moment, was pretty good.

The worst thing about MK though is that it’s pretty joyless: it has no atmosphere. There was nobody letting off a bit of steam to welcome in the weekend, it’s certainly not romantic and it doesn’t have the elegance required for somewhere that might feel a bit special. It felt only functional; like a mid-range hotel bar or restaurant, somewhere you went because it was easy and it was there.

We finished our evening with a passionfruit creme brûlée (£5.25) and chocolate brownies with hot chocolate sauce (£5.75). They kind of summed up the restaurant—neither terrible or outstanding, just somewhere in between.

MK Bar and Grill, 25-35 Gloucester Rd, London SW7 4PL; 020 7589 1383; www.mkbarandgrill.co.uk

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