Notting Hill Kitchen, Notting Hill
Notting Hill Kitchen is the reincarnation of Notting Hill Brasserie, a favourite of the red trouser brigade before its reputation was damaged during the London riots. It lies on Kensington Park Road, the vital artery that links Notting Hill Gate to Ladbroke Grove, and clogs every time the carnival comes around.
The surprisingly expansive venue is incredibly romantic, down in part to the lighting. It’s so low. So low that you’ll struggle to see people around you. So low that it will boost the confidence of those with sins to hide. In fact, if it weren’t for the sexy flickering candles I probably wouldn’t have bothered with makeup. The walls are painted a sumptuous green colour (dollar bill green, perhaps not accidentally) and there are plenty of private rooms to enable a degree of privacy.
The menu is influenced by the Iberian Peninsula, which calls for lots of pig and fish. You can choose between ordering from the main menu or a selection of tapas dishes (or both if you’re so inclined). The main menu is split between ‘land’ and ‘sea’. My date, Imo, chose the Acorn Fed Pork Neck with Warm Green Lentils whilst I chose a selection of tapas. I made the grave mistake of accepting Imo’s offer of some pork, which was so delicious that I spent the next 30 minutes in a silent fit of jealous rage. Other options include Berlengas Pink Swordfish smoked in Azores Black Tea (£24) and Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Madeira Sauce (£19). For pudding, try the deconstructed Pastel de Nata. In Lisbon, these small egg pastries are dusted with cinnamon. Here, they are smothered with cinnamon ice cream, which renders them creamier, less healthy and thus more delicious.
The tapas menu, more suited to the beautiful Seville style bar, offers delicious classics like Jamon Croquettes (£4), for philistines like myself, along with original dishes such as Tiborna (pata negra, bone marrow, cured papada, toasted sour dough and truffle oil for £6). This mature establishment calls for intense wines rather than frivolous cocktails, gorgeous looking as they are. The charming Sommelier will tell you what goes with what.
This is a grown-up venue for a respectable third date, after you’ve got drunk on the first and watched an Oscar winning film on the second. Make a reservation in advance (this restaurant is too classic and important for spontaneity), and be sure
to wear a jacket on the night. Be as romantic as a Spanish teenager, but don’t go overboard with displays of affection because it’s not the place, no matter how dark it is. Eat, drink and talk, before walking her back to her flat. This is a local spot after all.
Notting Hill Kitchen is essentially faultless, though obviously it’s not for those with poor eyesight. If you live within a 3 mile radius, or have a romantic occasion on the horizon, book as soon as you can!
4. Romance not sex.