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Kitchen W8*

Sunday, 6 March 2011

We were planning to go to New York this Easter break so we duly made our way down to the American Embassy to get a couple of visas. After a round trip that took up 7.5 hrs of driving, 3 hours of queuing, USD$280 and £112 (14 for courier, 18 for parking, 80 for petrol), the PigPig’s visa got approved while mine is on hold as they find it really odd that I’m not a Permanent Resident in the UK after staying here for 10 years and I also forgot to take my old passports to show my previous UK visas.

Thankfully we had time to have lunch at Kitchen W8 afterwards then as I was feeling decidedly grumpy. Conveniently found just off High Street Kensington, it was also just a short drive from the embassy and although we found a parking within two minutes of spotting the restaurant, I would imagine it a lot harder to get a spot on the weekends.

As is seemingly the case with most other Michelin starred restaurants in London, the interior of Kitchen W8 had a very clean and polished approach in variants of cream and gray tones which was nice but it did lack personality. It was all quiet and hush-hush when we first entered but it soon picked up in volume when a half-dozen Japanese ladies joined the room.

Kitchen W8*, London 7

The bread on offer came in three varieties (white, brown or a slightly savoury pumpkin) and was decent if unspectacular and not warmed.

Parfait of foie gras with yorkshire rhubarb, blood orange and sourdough toast”. I was planning to try something different from what I usually order but I spied a diner on a neighbouring table enjoying this so much I gave in to my cravings. The foie mousse was very smooth and went great with the rhubarb although it can be easy for the rhubarb to overpower the foie if applied too liberally. Typical combination of the foie/terrine/pate and a sweet jam/compote/chutney by the side which was done well here but I did regret not trying something else to test the kitchen.

Kitchen W8*, London 3

Langoustine ravioli with scallops in a herb broth. Today’s special was a simple idea but very well executed. The ravioli was very light and was a great little home for the langoustine. Lightly searing the scallops added more flavours to the ensemble while ensuring it didn’t get overcooked. Far and away the best thing about this dish though was the broth, being very light in density and packed full with delicious crustacean flavour. Drained every drop.

Kitchen W8*, London 2

Crisp belly and slow cooked cheek of pork, creamed potato, turnip and pickled cabbage”. I didn’t notice till just a minute ago as I copied and pasted the dish’s name from Kitchen W8’s website but the pork belly was definitely not crisp. Instead it was more of a melt-in-your-mouth pork belly which is still well and good although I found it a tad over-seasoned especially considering there is pickled cabbage on top of it. The PigPig particularly enjoyed the pork cheek as it was fall-apart-tender. While the mash potato isn’t as creamy or enjoyable as Robuchon’s version, it was still very enjoyable.

Kitchen W8*, London

Roast wood pigeon, tart fine of smoked onions, endive, pear and foie gras”. The PigPig meanwhile continued her recent fancy with pigeons. The breast meat was pink, juicy and tender while it still had a bite typical of game birds. While we both like caramelised onions, we discovered that smoked onions are even better; it also seemed to complement the pigeon quite well. The slice of foie gras in between the two breasts was great and served to help provide some fat to the otherwise lean pigeon. At first glance, the mash on the side looks identical to the pork’s but it turned out to actually be pear puree which I quite liked to pair with the foie.

Kitchen W8*, London 6

Bitter chocolate pudding with vanilla ice cream and hazelnut praline”. We had decided to share just the one dessert but after taking a bite of this we both regretted not ordering something else as this dessert was fantastic.

Kitchen W8*, London 5

Already a decadent fondant filled with molten chocolate, it then had a coating of melted milk chocolate over the top. I didn’t quite fancy the caramelized hazelnut pralines, but the PigPig found that a bit of saltiness helps to bring out the taste of chocolate further.

Kitchen W8*, London 4

Altogether the bill came up to just under £80 for two and a half courses each for two people and tap water. Service was to be as expected.

Food – 8.0
Service – 6.0
Atmosphere – 4.0
Value – 5.0

Overall, the food was consistently good with some deft touches changing otherwise ordinary dishes into great ones (such as the pigeon with the onion tart). London is seemingly at times over-saturated with good restaurants with a one-star status but I would think my experience here better than meals at Maze or Arbutus for example.

Best bit: the langoustine, pigeon or chocolate fondant were all equally fantastic and I would be happy to go again the next day just to eat the same courses.
Worst bit: not going to NYC this Easter after all.

Kitchen W8
11-13 Abingdon Road
W8 6AH
Tel: +44(0)20 7937 0120
Official website
Kitchen W8 on Urbanspoon

PS. The good news is, we will be going to San Sebastian this Easter. Any restaurant recommendations would be most welcome!

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