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The Lonsdale

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

We were invited to review this restaurant and the entire meal was paid for by the house. The following below is our independent view, but you have been warned.

Would I like to come review a recently refurbished restaurant + cocktail bar which serves steak provided by Allen’s of Mayfair in a kitchen headed by Jason Wallis, previously of Hawksmoor fame? Yes please!

So off we trotted to West London to find The Lonsdale nestled just off fashionably posh Westbourne Grove in a little quiet residential area. Recently refurbished in June 2010 but apparently this place has been popular for providing good cocktails for quite a while.

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We were early for our dinner so were amongst the first ones into the restaurant on a Thursday evening. The décor is really something else here for the main restaurant. Seating 60 covers with most of them spread out on extremely comfortable leather sofas. Our seating was arranged so that the wife and I were seated 90° to each other, which I find more relaxing and intimate and also made it far easier for us to share each other’s dishes.

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The drinks menu is extensive to put it mildly. Obviously the emphasis is on the cocktails here with far too many for us to make a simple choice. The descriptions include not just a list of the contents you’ll be drinking, but often also a little background information on the cocktail and the creator of said drink.

Anyway the wife had a Russian Spring Punch (Stolichnaya vodka, lemon juice, champagne, crème de cassis; really refreshing bubbly drink with a kick behind it) while I had a Black Bison (Bison grass vodka shaken with fresh blackberries, lime and Chambord; no I didn’t taste any grass essence, but it was a fruity little drink and the ice really helped on a hot day).

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Along with the drinks came a little plate of olives (mostly green), spiced with some pickled onions (stayed well away from) and garlic (slurp slurp) which gave the cocktails some nice company, but made us more ravenous for the food.

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Marinated & roasted Tamworth pork ribs”. Good thing we were hungry because this was a big portion for a starter with 6 ribs here, I know people who count this as a full dinner. The meat was tender but a little bit too salty I think. Couldn’t really put my finger on the exact spice/herb used as well.

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Seared scallops & chorizo, butternut squash purée”. The scallops were nicely cooked and had that nice bouncy texture, but were slightly underwhelming in taste (maybe it’s just the scallops here? Don’t recall eating any nice ones lately). The butternut squash puree was excellent though and the sweetness was nicely offset by the naturally salty, oily and sharp chorizo.

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After that we had a further drink each to grease the wheels. The PigPig chose an Elderflower Martini (Bison Grass vodka stirred with apple juice and elderflower cocktail) and I opted for a Vesper whose description was an excerpt of Ian Fleming’s book Casino Royale in 1937 (sounds familiar?). Now we found all the cocktails eminently drinkable and I actually really liked the Vesper not only because I hoped to be more suave and dashing by association but mainly because it was a really smooth mature blend.

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350 gram Rib eye”. The Scottish beef is provided by Allen’s of Mayfair, reportedly the oldest butcher in Britain and also supplies Marco Pierre White, Michel Roux Jr of Le Gavroche and can count Nigella Lawson as a fan. The steak has been hung for 28 days, expertly cooked to medium rare using a charcoal grill and was nice and pink in the middle.

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Tastewise, the slab of meat was really good yet lacking when compared to Hawksmoor with slightly less beefy taste and less seasoning as well. However, that is partially made up by the blue cheese sauce which the PigPig absolutely loved.

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“Triple cooked chips”. All the steaks come with a side and sauce so I opted to have chips. It wasn’t half bad and quite crunchy, although I did find there were a lot of small pieces there.

Roast rack of lamb, sweet potato & coriander purée”. This dish was perfect in every way. The lamb was wonderfully tender and pink in the middle, well seasoned and still had that great lamby taste, enhanced even more by the jus on the side. The sweet potato puree is identical to the one in the starter but the addition of coriander gave it a fresh zest as well.

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Banoffee pie”. I felt this was more of a tart than a pie with a crispy base filled with fresh banana and banoffee goodness topped with cream. The banoffee tart itself was good to eat but I did think the red sauce and pistachio nuts dribbled about were quite superfluous and didn’t really add much to the tart.

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Sticky toffee pudding, toffee sauce & clotted cream”. One of the better renditions of this classic, this was appropriately heavy and thick without being stodgy. The PigPig found the clotted cream helped counter the sweetness of the toffee sauce but I found it a bit too heavy (and I don’t like clotted cream anyway).

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We didn’t pay for the meal, but I estimate that a 3 course meal would probably have cost near £40 (excluding drinks) although if I came back (and why wouldn’t I?), I would probably skip a starter. The cocktails range from £8-10 depending on the liquor involved; for example the Russian Spring Punch has champagne so is priced at £10. They do have an early bird offer from 6-8pm from a set menu, but then you’ll be missing out on the steak.

Service throughout the night was friendly and attentive from the two waitresses. However, being a fairly quiet weekday, it was only half full at best so I wonder how they cope on busy weekends. The Lonsdale had a really jiving atmosphere, helped in no small part by the bartender as well as the DJ.

Food – 7.0
Service – 6.0
Atmosphere – 7.0
Value – 5.0

I was a bit underwhelmed by the starters at first but the mains were pretty damn good. The steak here is probably one of the better ones but doesn’t reach the standard of Hawksmoor, which isn’t too bad a thing since there’s no shame being beaten by the best.

Best bit: the many many many cocktails around, you’re bound to find something you like.
Worst bit: it is quite a bit out of the way?

The Lonsdale
48 Lonsdale Road,
Notting Hill
W11 2DE
Tel: +44(020) 7727 4080
Official website

Lonsdale on Urbanspoon

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