Parlour, Kensal Green

The yuppie make-over

The Vibe

Reinvention is a wonderful thing, especially in the hospitality industry. We’re all suckers for a re-launch, a re-brand or a pop-up residency, but in the case of Parlour (formerly The Regent) we see an established neighbourhood pub that wanted to rid itself of its pub-club reputation and get all foodie on us. To great effect. Walk into Parlour’s new dining room and you’re greeted by polished wood and blue panelled walls, leather banquette seating lining the periphery, trendy water beakers, industrial-chic chairs, exposed lightbulbs and some clever tiling. It has hints of the Riding House Café about it, albeit played down so as not traumatise the local drinkers who woke up one evening to find themselves in a zeitgeist polished up all-day-dining establishment (8am-1am). Like its owners, who remain the same, The Regent just grew up a little, and got a new wardrobe.

The Order

This is hearty all right. There are some dishes that are staple pub fare, and some that are done exceptionally. The chicken liver paté, which comes in a jar accompanied by a stack of crostini, is smooth, rich and the best I’ve had. Accompany with a lighter starter as it’s a sure fire mistake to also go for the wedges of deep friend brie (or should we?). Steak is fine, crab cakes are excellent and the ‘Cow Pie’ is what they pride themselves on. Go with what the waiters suggest- they seem to know their stuff but also provide the sort of cool and casual banter you’d get in the LES  in New York, i.e American politesse with an edge.

The Game

Kensal Green is slowing growing its offering but is not quite there yet so choices for the evening may be limited. Meet outside the pub and jest with the friendly bouncer till your date arrives. When you book, make sure you request the round corner table facing the entrance- it’s the most romantic option and set away from the larger groups in the room. This is the place for wine rather than cocktails, which can always be enjoyed afterwards at the bar. Make it a lengthy experience, dragging out the courses, taking a while to decide and rushing nothing. The aim is to start by sitting at perpendicular angles to each other and slide together across the banquette as the meal goes on- by dessert there should be some knee tickling. As this is a neighbourhood joint, ideally one of you lives nearby, so perhaps suggest a casual DVD, which will hopefully turn into a makeout session. If you don’t, then cab it to Love & Liquor or Paradise for some dancing and more booze. Tackle the difficulty of getting home much later (and much drunker).

The Faults

Bit heavy for date food and, unless you live nearby, a bit of a mission.

Sex Factor

2. The food isn’t light and the logistics of location and post-dinner options might complicate the ease at which you fall into bed together.  Perfect for cosy winter dating and for those bored with the proliferation of concept restaurants in town.

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