Pavilion
REVIEWS, July 4, 2014
Overall Value
3.5
out of 5
Food 
Service 
Ambience 
3.5
  • Food
  • Service
  • Ambience
Pavilion, 96 Kensington High St, London, W8 4SG

Handy enough for a pricey shopping lunch near Ken High Street, this grandly marbled bar-cum-restaurant otherwise struck us as a venue without many obvious attractions.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was right. The rich are different from you and me. They seem, for example, to deem only one decorative finish acceptable. And that is marble. Step forward, for example, Lady (JCB) Bamford and your elegantly mausoleum-style Pimlico cafe, Daylesford Organic. And, of course, Richard Caring, at Scott’s and so on.

Latest member of the zillionaire-restaurateur club is Jon Hunt – the ex-Foxtonian who keeps a collection of Ferraris under the garden of his Kensington palace. (Not in the Lord Brocket sense, obviously.)

Hunt seems quickly to have learnt the club rules, lavishing some small part of his fortune on this, yep, lavishly-marbled cocktail bar-cum-restaurant, which is implausibly located in a prominent spot almost opposite High Street Ken.

It made a pleasantly cool retreat the – sweltering – day we visited. But we had not for long sat at the theatrically large central bar, which dominates the whole room, when a terrible thought occurred to us: why would we ever come back? OK, this would not be a bad place for a glass of fizz during a shopping trip, and there are some reasonably priced bar dishes which would fill a corner nicely. But as a place to make an active decision to come and eat’?

We have this theory that, at really successful restaurants, the food must always outshine the décor (which is why good simple food always tastes best in a modest bistro). It’s difficult when, as here, you’d have to be Ducasse on a good day to live up to all the marble.

And the food doesn’t. It’s not that there’s anything actually wrong with Adam Simmonds’s (ex-Danesfield House) good-looking realisation of the superior-coffee-shop-style menu, just that the whole experience is like eating in the lobby of a grand but not inspired West End Hotel. (Four Seasons, we’re looking at you.)

From the bread, via the cod ‘n’ white beans, to the anonymous chocolate pudding, this all felt like quality outside catering, prettily presented’but not somewhere where anyone was cooking with heart or inspiration.

Given the setting, we do rather wonder how it could be otherwise. So much marble. So little point. Welcome to the millionaire-mausoleum club.

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