British, Modern Restaurants in Kensington
1. Clarke’s British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 124 Kensington Church Street - W8
“Never failing to excel, even after years and years…” – Sally Clarke’s Kensington HQ (opened in 1984) is nowadays a “classic”; and even those who say “it’s a bit of a time warp nowadays”, concede that her California-inspired cuisine is nigh-on as “modern and fresh” as ever. “The moment you step in, often to be welcomed by Sally herself, you know you are in for a wonderful evening, with imaginative but unpretentious dishes that are impeccably prepared – with great ingredients that are allowed to stand out – while service is always professional and present-without-hovering”. The atmosphere here has always been slightly divisive: for a few “dull” or “formal”, but to most diners – “with its artwork, soothing colors, and low noise level to allow plenty of engaging conversation” – romantic and “always a delight”.
2. Launceston Place British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 1a Launceston Pl - W8
“In a quiet residential corner of Kensington”, on a picture-book street – this “lovely and calm” pre-Victorian townhouse (established as a restaurant in 1985, and owned by D&D Restaurants since 2007) creates a sense of “privacy” that’s particularly “great for a romantic evening”. “Over the years there have been many changes of chef”, but since Ben Murphy joined in early 2017, the food rating here has been “on an upward trajectory” and his “exciting” cuisine – “fun, whimsical, delicious” – won impressively consistent praise this year. “Surely a Michelin star is now beckoning for this young chef”?
3. Kitchen W8 British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 11-13 Abingdon Road - W8
This under-the-radar venture, in a smart row of businesses off Kensington High Street, has supplied “unexpectedly delicious” meals to a well-heeled local crowd for 10 years – although the consistently high marks should be no surprise given that it’s part-owned by star chef Phil Howard (of Elystan Street and formerly The Square). Atmosphere-wise, it’s somewhere between “quietly sophisticated” and “Spartan”.
4. The Abingdon British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 54 Abingdon Rd - W8
With its “cosy red-leather booths” to the rear and attractive dining room and bar, this posh gastropub has been a “locals’ favourite” of chichi backstreet Kensington for 22 years. The food is “above average (fantastic steaks!)” and there’s a “decent wine list” – “what’s not to like?”.
5. The Ivy Kensington Brasserie British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 96 Kensington High St - W8
“Maybe the brand is a bit stretched”, but Richard Caring’s bold expansion is paying off by-and-large, certainly in commercial terms, and – though most branches’ average food-rating is run-of-the-mill – by the standards of large chains, the group delivers a consistent-enough formula, whereby folks accept predictable nursery fodder in return for a dependable dose of ‘affordable glamour’. The “beautiful and festive” Ivy Chelsea Garden (SW3) is the best known in the stable and it’s particularly “wonderful if you manage to get a table in their fabulous garden”. The “big and buzzy” Ivy Kensington Brasserie (W8) is less highly rated, but nevertheless fills a vital niche in the local market for a comfortable, atmospheric and versatile rendezvous (“its bar is also a fun place for a drink”). The City branches (The Ivy Tower Bridge, The Ivy City Garden EC2) and Canary Wharf outlet (The Ivy in the Park, E14) are the highest rated all-round (perhaps reflecting the ongoing lack of convivial spaces out east). “Awesome views” at Tower Bridge are distinct client-pleasers. Other branches taking above-average flak include The Ivy Soho Brasserie, W1 (“busy mayhem” with “slow and disorganised service”) and The Ivy Market Grill, WC2 (“nothing special, rather overpriced, and very busy”). See also Granary Square Brasserie.
6. Park Terrace Restaurant, Royal Garden Hotel British, Modern restaurant in Kensington 2-24 Kensington High St - W8
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”.
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