British, Modern Restaurants in Kensington
1. Clarke’s British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 124 Kensington Church Street - W8
“Sally Clarke remains very present” at her “sophisticated” and “welcoming” Kensington HQ, which she established in 1984 at the bleeding edge of a trend to a more seasonal, ingredient-led style of dining that’s nowadays become an accepted norm. Consequently, for some fans, this has been “a ‘go-to’ for decades” owing to its “consistently superb cuisine”, creating dishes “with fantastic attention to detail” that “are imaginative without seeming ‘tricked up’”. The décor has always divided opinions here: “quite formal” for some tastes, but to others “romantic” and “perfect for a relaxed evening with grown-up conversation”. Ratings slipped a little this year across the board, though, as even those hailing it as “excellent” may note that “prices seem to have jumped here even more than most post-Covid”.
2. The Ivy Kensington Brasserie British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 96 Kensington High St - W8
“You wouldn’t go for ‘haute cuisine’, but as a jolly place to eat comfort food in a spectacular setting, it is hard to beat” – that’s the upbeat view, anyway, on this now-“ubiquitous” brasserie chain. Eight years and 40 openings later, the spin-offs increasingly eclipse the Theatreland original (see also), whose Edwardian features provide the style-guide for its nationwide ‘roll out’. “Even if the unchallenging food reaches no heights, there’s a consistent buzz”, which makes them a “posh”, “fun” choice for a get-together, if not a particularly foodie one. This is particularly the case at the landmark London off-shoots: at ‘Chelsea Garden’ (“gorgeous greenery”); Kensington (“slick”, with a “pretty glitzy crowd”); and on the Thames (“great views over Tower Bridge”). But while it’s always been acknowledged that the mass offering is “a shadow of the mothership’s” – with “average grub at not-so-average prices” – the feeling that the brand has become just “a chain that does not excite” is gaining ever-stronger currency. Service seems more “stretched” nowadays, and a sliding ambience rating is making the whole offering seem ever-more “overrated, for all its modern art and perky décor”.
3. Kitchen W8 British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 11-13 Abingdon Road - W8
“Polished cuisine” with a “creative mix of ingredients” – overseen from afar by star chef Phil Howard – elevates this “classic neighbourhood restaurant” off High Street Kensington into something “top class” and one of London’s better-known foodie destinations. If criticism is made, it’s typically that a diner “had heard great things, but was underwhelmed despite finding nothing obviously wrong”. In a similar variable vein, service veers from “very pleasant” to “sometimes chaotic”; and the “well-spaced” dining room is “lovely” to some, too low-key for others.
4. Megan's on the HIgh Street British, Modern restaurant in Kensington and Chelsea 204 Kensington High Street - W8
With its inviting décor, this fast-expanding group has been a big “winner” since the pandemic, mushrooming to 18 sites, all of which have generally proved useful additions to their respective areas. But while “it certainly looks the part, and the staff look after you well enough”, the brunch-friendly fare can be hit ’n’ miss, with reports ranging from “surprisingly good” to “formulaic and really abysmal”. Top Tip – “always a top option for feeding the family”.
5. The Abingdon British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 54 Abingdon Rd - W8
“A cut above the normal pub” – with its “stylish mix of bar area and secluded, more intimate booths”, this smart venue on a Kensington backstreet has entertained well-heeled locals with a menu of elevated gastropub fare for a quarter of a century.
6. Park Terrace Restaurant, Royal Garden Hotel British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 2-24 Kensington High St - W8
2021 Review: With its “beautiful views over Kensington Gardens”, this “quiet and comfortable” hotel restaurant makes a useful venue for lunch or afternoon tea. “The service is a perfect blend of efficiency and friendliness”, while the Sunday roast – sirloin of Buccleuch beef, carved from the trolley – is “delicious”.
7. Launceston Place British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 1a Launceston Place - W8
“A special place to dine in stylish and intimate rooms” – this “quirkily laid-out” townhouse (est. 1986) in a quiet Kensington backstreet “exudes gracious hospitality” and “never fails to delight”, particularly as a “romantic” destination. Chef Ben Murphy joined in January 2017 and why Michelin have failed to award him a star is anyone’s guess: his cuisine “is delicious with subtle flavour combinations and artistically presented plates” that all make up for a “memorable” occasion. (You would never know it was owned by D&D London – it stands head and shoulders over the rest of their portfolio nowadays.)
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