It would be easy to dismiss this late-2006 newcomer as a fashion-driven lightweight. Well, for a start, it’s in Notting Hill. And, to make matters worse, it’s linked with the Ignite Group, owners of the Eclipse bar chain and Kate Middleton’s favourite nightclub, Boujis. Finally there the motto – “For city folk who like a bit of country living” – which would have any real countryman quickly reaching for the 12-bore.
Occupying the large premises of a former pub, two minutes’ walk from the All Saints Road, Bumpkin incorporates a lively ground floor “Country Brasserie”, a first-floor “Restaurant” (with private dining), and “Whisky Rooms” above. On entering the (no booking) ground floor – which felt pretty darn ‘happening’ – we rather wished we hadn’t reserved. On the other hand, we wouldn’t otherwise actually have got a table, so it was no bad thing that we were destined for the quieter, but still comfortably stylish, first floor.
A round of well-made cocktails, kicked off a lazily-paced meal, which was perfect for a Friday evening. On another occasion, though, the very unhurried if totally charming service might have grated.
And as to the food? Well admittedly this is an all-round-experience kind of place. But to diss the straightforward cooking here because it doesn’t attempt fireworks would be unfair. Portions are unfashionably generous, even for pricy items like crab salad, and the beef ribs for two could have fed a family. The fought-over selection of basic puds – brownies, apple crumble, sticky toffee pudding – was emblematic of a meal which, if short on culinary adventure, was consistently full of flavour.
So, there you have it: you must venture to Notting Hill, to re-discover the delights of honest, down-to-earth scoffing? What is the world coming to?