Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in London Kensington
Hardens guides have spent 30 years compiling reviews of the best Kensington restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 46 restaurants in Kensington and our unique survey based approach to rating and reviewing Kensington restaurants gives you the best insight into the top restaurants in every area and of every type of cuisine.
Featured Kensington Restaurants
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. Romulo Café Filipino restaurant in Kensington 343 Kensington High Street - W8
“Beating Jollibee if you want to try decent, quality Filipino food” – this London outlet of a Philippines-based chain (owned by the grandchildren of a famous general) operates on a different level than its fast-food rival in nearby Earl’s Court (see also Jollibee). Offering “very fresh” and interesting dishes (for newbies, “there’s a strong whiff of Thai cuisine”), “enthusiasm is key, and the food is presented with great bravura”.
3. Maggie Jones’s British, Traditional restaurant in Kensington 6 Old Court Pl - W8
“Cosy, fun, old place that has been around for years and years” – a favourite in its time of Princess Margaret, who used to slip away to here from nearby Kensington Palace, and whose alias when booking provides the current restaurant’s name. Its rustic, heavily-romantic style isn’t dissimilar to its stablemate, La Poule au Pot, and it likewise serves “basic, traditional English dishes” designed to satisfy your hunger at a “decent price” rather than to dazzle your tastebuds. “There’s a reasonable wine list too, unless you go for the magnum where they measure with a stick how much of it you’ve taken from the bottle: amusing to say the least but not their best vintage…”
4. Los Mochis restaurant in Kensington 2 Farmer St - W8
On the site that was for over half a century Geales (RIP) – this new urban-grunge, Mexican/Japanese hang out is the antithesis of the traditional English fish ’n’ chips restaurant that preceded it.
5. Pino Italian restaurant in Kensington 267 Kensington High Street - W8
Formerly Pizzicotto (RIP) – the Chiavarini family (who have run nearby Il Portico since the '60's) have revamped their six-year-old spin-off and in June 2021 are taking it in a slightly more serious culinary direction. The wood-burning pizza oven is still in operation, but there’s more of an emphasis on trattoria style dishes, cured meats and pasta.
6. 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”?
7. Il Portico Italian restaurant in Kensington 277 Kensington High St - W8
This “proper, family-run Italian trattoria” in Kensington pre-dates the new Design Museum on the other side of the road by decades, and exudes “cosy”, “olde world charm”. That it’s “family-owned and family-friendly” is key to its longevity, and has made it a “go-to restaurant” for its many long-term regulars. But “after decades, the business has passed down a generation, and young and old alike agree it’s brought an improvement, with an approach that’s more energetic”. Its strengths are “a charming atmosphere”, “authentic Emilia-Romana cuisine, instead of the usual floods of red sauce” and the “unfailing and unflappable care of owner James Chiavarini and his well-trained staff”.
8. Dishoom Indian restaurant in Kensington The Barkers Building, Derry Street - W8
“There aren’t many restaurants where I will queue for nearly two hours to get a table but it’s worth the wait!” – This “madly popular” Mumbai-inspired chain “has taken London by storm” and is now the capital’s most mentioned chain. Even if the heady days of its Covent Garden debut are long gone, criticisms that it’s “too popular for its own good” are most notable by their absence; and instead its “a firm favourite” for its massive army of fans who feel “it never fails to impress”. The “buzzy, Indian, faux-retro vibe” (“I felt transported to the Parsi eating houses of Bombay in the 1960s”) helps set up a “crazy, frenetic atmosphere”; and even if the “noise levels are pretty bad”, “somehow it all comes together”. It helps that service is “always punctual and friendly” (respect: it’s such a busy chain), and the tapas-y food – though no longer as bleeding edge as it once seemed – still feels “vibrant”, with a selection of dishes that’s “far from run-of-the-mill” (“recommended by all our Indian friends!”), plus “an exceptional list of drinks”. Breakfast here is unexpectedly “a true thing of beauty” too: “so different” in a brilliant way. “You can book during the day, but not at night” – “the wait is tedious, but the buzzer system works well” and cocktails at the bar help blur time. In mid 2019, the chain acquired the former Jamie’s Italian site next to its original WC2 branch in order to expand its footprint. Top Tips – “black dahl is still the best” and “the bacon naan is the greatest restaurant breakfast dish of all time!”.
9. Min Jiang, The Royal Garden Hotel Chinese restaurant in Kensington 2-24 Kensington High St - W8
“With such delightful views of Kensington Gardens, the food could so easily become secondary”, but the impressively glam 8th-floor of the “luxurious” Royal Garden Hotel has long been acknowledged as one of the capital’s best destinations thanks to its “consistently excellent” Chinese cuisine (“better than I had in Hong Kong!”). Its ratings came off the boil slightly this year however, amidst some unfamiliar accusations that “it’s going downhill and becoming very expensive”: “if this is the best Beijing Duck in town, then I’m the Emperor of China!”
10. 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”.
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