The 1995 opening of The Westbourne – on the Bayswater fringe of Notting Hill – was part of the process that eventually made the ‘Hill’ a synonym for a certain type of ‘hip’. ‘Gastropubs’ were a new idea – the term was not even in use then – and the combination of good food to eat and a large and sunny terrace for posing on seemed revolutionary. The establishment is still a ‘perennially fashionable’ linchpin of what’s now one of the priciest bits of town.
So should your next property purchase be in Kensal Rise? Westbourne’s-co-founder Ollie Daniaud has apparently decided that the area – so suburban in feel that it’s not even obvious that it’s London-suburban- really may well be ‘the next Notting Hill’.
His new place certainly presents a contrast with the Pooter-pebbledash style of its neighbours. In fact – with its bare plaster walls, surrounded by a broad terrace with large ‘sail’-style sun blinds and a border of frondy grass – it wouldn’t look quite at home anywhere north of Malaga.
The informal bar menu has a bit – but only a bit – of a southern-European spin too. Plates of mezze and charcuterie, for example, were both above par. Our visit was at lunch, but the attention to detail suggested that the chef is well up to cooking the more ambitious dishes which (additionally) appear on the menu at night.
If the place has a weakness, it won’t come as any surprise to Westbourne habitués to know that it’s on the speed-of-service front: compared to the size of the airy and quite elegant dining area, the kitchen looks very small. As you’re whiling away the time, though, there’s a good range of sub-£20 wines to quaff. And, to read, take plenty of estate agents’ particulars.