The heartland of Notting Hill eating territory is still a sort of homage to the seminal restaurant, 192, which marked its epicentre. Indeed, without the catalyst of that path-breaking ‘Modern British’ restaurant – which, over nearly two decades, became west London’s answer to The Ivy – who knows: perhaps the area would never have progressed to becoming a synonym for an entire lifestyle.
The area’s unchallenged stalwart is the ever-packed Osteria Antica Bologna, and, just round the corner, Will Ricker has made e&o a stand-out among trendy destinations. In the face of such competition, the local Café Med became ever more overshadowed, and its three-level site was re-launched in March as a casual American restaurant. It looks a bit cold and uninspired from the outside, but seems to be carving out a bit of a name as a superior sort of standby. As soon as you step in to the rather oddly-configured interior you begin to see why, especially if you head for the basement, with its niches and its banquettes. With its open fire, it makes a perfect hide-away on a winter’s day.
First sight of the menu is not especially encouraging – this is clearly not a place that strives for novelty. What’s done is done well, though, with the likes of steaks, burgers and other grilled protein all produced to a very satisfactory standard. Service – entirely bereft of the ‘attitude’ which can be rather a feature in these parts – is friendly and efficient, too. And prices are also reasonable. In short, this is one of those places that’s not a ‘destination’, but well worth knowing if you’re in the hood.
You’d expect them to make quite a deal of brunch here and they do: but only on Sundays.