West Thirty Six, Notting Hill
My idea of fun is eating burgers with my hands and balancing champagne coupes between my fingers. That balance between crass and classy is often what makes new dining experiences a thrill rather than a chore that involves best behaviour. West 36, with its casual European dining downstairs, and opulent sitting room for feasting upstairs, personifies a lot about Notting Hill locals – they like a spruced up version of gastropub dining.
From the glassware to the lampshades – which, according to room curation, must remain on- to the white and blue vintage plates next to crushed leather armchairs, it’s a delightful mish mash of interiors that ironically scream ‘I’m so chilled out’.
This vibe is built on by tattooed European staff who crouch down or pull up a pew as your order and jest about a love of tequila and, of course, their personal favourites on the menu. Downstairs is built for boozy brunches, and upstairs for lazy comfort dates or ‘yikes we overdid it’ double dates on the sofas. Private equity chaps and interiors wives share the room with international business school grads, born and bred west Londoners, European bon vivants and perhaps even a low key celeb. Not in this category? Well you’ll have to channel Tom Ripley and pretend it’s just a pretty pub – in other words, fake it.
Incredible chargrilled squid to start, juicy burgers with the right amount of cheese (lots) with fat pickles, half a roast chicken done to perfection and your choice of skinny fries or beef dripping chips. Expensive, light and dry rose wine and a divine sticky toffee pudding to share. Return for brunch on the weekend and it’s chunky club sandwiches, potent bloody Mary’s and that modish new brunch staple, poached eggs and avocado on toast.
This is an Uber sorta place to get to. For the sake of camaraderie, meet at Notting Hill and jump in a cab. When you arrive, take a chill pill about getting taken to a table – it’s always busy, you might have to wait. When asked for the drinks order, cut in with a request for two glasses of Prosecco before your date has time to react. As you work through the menu chat only about frivolous things, make a pact to over-indulge and hatch plans for a nightcap somewhere. As the venue is sisters with glam ‘n’ dark Beach Blanket Babylon, you might want to whisk them there afterwards, just to notch up the sex factor. Don’t make out at the restaurant, wait till later. Then call them a cab when they look too drunk and promise a return for brunch.
The low chairs could be better matched for height – my poor giant date looked like he was perching on a child’s chair while I rested comfortably on my throne.
3. It doesn’t feel wholly appropriate to make out here.