A new Basque – from the French side of the Pyrenees

The family behind longstanding Kensington Italian restaurant Il Portico has launched a new venture almost next door, focusing on the food of southwest France and the Pays Basque.

La Palombe, which opened this week opposite the Design Museum, has taken over the site of Pino, an Italian enoteca also owned by the Chiavarini family, which closed down after a short run last year citing “rising costs”. It took its name from Pino Chiavarini, who founded Il Portico in 1967.

His son James has bounced back with La Palombe (the wood-pigeon), which he says has a “high-end rural French” approach, with game cooked over a wood-fired grill, along with mushrooms and truffles. Diners will no doubt be interested to compare the menu with the capital’s many interpretations of Spanish Basque cuisine.

James says, “With La Palombe, I’m more determined than ever to revert to ancestral methods of food production –  hunting, gathering, fermenting and grilling over wood all feature heavily. I want to turn the clock back to a time before the industrial food complex took control of our food chain.”

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