Kitchen W8 in Kensington: Ten years on Mark Kempson’s food is as delicious as ever
You know when you go to a restaurant and the chef tries to impress his guests by going beyond his reach and skills, sometimes failing miserably? I’ve seen it happen at many levels, even when the place boasted two mighty Michelin stars. Kitchen W8 sits at the opposite of this spectrum, offering fine-dining cuisine that is simple without ever being uninspiring.
Located in the heart of Kensington, this upscale restaurant is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and will serve a special menu – a greatest hits, if you like – starting from next week. It’s made up of three intimate dining spaces and a private room overlooking a charming West London street.
Our dinner begins with a Grilled Cornish Mackerel, Smoked Eel, Sweet Mustard and Leek. This is a light and elegant dish, yet rich in flavour. There’s great care for each element on the plate, the eel thinly sliced and the mackerel properly grilled so that it doesn’t lose its juiciness. We continue with a sweetbread, giroles and black truffle: it might sound classic but it’s simply delicious.
We are doing a tasting menu and, consequently, the portions are smaller. A Cornish brill confirms chef Kempson’s understanding of cooking techniques; every fish course is executed to perfection. The brill sits on crushed potato, wilted gem, peas and bacon, an ideal combination of textures and flavours. The pairing with a Rully 1er Cru Molesme 2016 by Jean-Baptiste Ponsot is spot on: this chardonnay balances fruity and mineral elements, matching the complexity of the dish. To follow, we have the Glazed Shoulder of Lamb, Globe Artichoke, Olive Gnocchi, Tomato and Balsamic.
Desserts are excellent. The first bite of the apricot and almond croustade refreshes the palate, then its sweetness – also enhanced by the honey ice cream – lusciously fills the mouth. A Chocolate Pavé, Poached Cherries, Black Cherry Ice Cream and Buckwheat is a wonderful finale to the menu: rich in cocoa, its softness is compensated by the crunchiness of the buckwheat.
Ten years since its opening, Kitchen W8 – co-owned by industry A-players Rebecca Mascarenhas and Phil Howard – is a staple of the West London dining scene. Yesterday, it celebrated ten consecutive years with a Michelin star, and deservedly so. It’s a restaurant far from the ever-changing trends that obsess some chefs. It offers a cuisine that is refined, light and – more importantly – exquisite.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Kitchen W8, 11-13 Abingdon Road, London, W8 6AH, call 02079370120 or visit their website here.
The tenth anniversary menu is available from Monday 14th October until Sunday 27th October 2019.