Kitchen W8 * | London (UK)

Comforting food with pleasant tastes and flavours, but nothing special.
For a high-end restaurant this is below par and I fail to see Michelin star quality.

Kitchen W8 is located just off Kensington High Street in the W8 postcode area of London (UK). Set up by restaurateur Rebecca Mascarenhas and Phil Howard (of Michelin Star restaurant The Square in Mayfair), Kitchen W8 opened its doors in 2009 and positioning themselves now as a genuinely relaxed and friendly Michelin star neighbourhood restaurant.

Head Chef since the launch of Kitchen W8 in 2009 has been Mark Kempson, earning the restaurant a Michelin Star just two years later. An accolade which the restaurant retained each year since then. Mark previously worked at The Square (then 2 Michelin Stars) with Phil Howard and also The Vineyard at Stockcross (then 2 Michelin Stars) with John Campbell.

Kitchen W8 is open 7 days a week for both lunch and dinner. The à la carte menu offers 6 Starters (£8.95-£15.50), 6 Mains (£20-£29), 6 Desserts (£7-£8.50) and Cheeseboard (3 Cheeses £10.75, 5 Cheeses £15.95). Beside à la carte they also offer a 6-courseTasting menu (at £75), a Set Lunch Menu (2-courses at £25, 3-courses at £28), a Set Early Evening Menu available 6pm-6:45pm (2-courses at £26.50, 3-courses at £29.50) and a 3-course Sunday Lunch Menu (at £39).

We went for dinner on a Friday night 3 weeks ago and choose from the à la carte menu.

Pea Hummus & Mint Shallots with Black Tapioca Crackers

They serve this as kind of an amuse bouche. Nice dip, fresh peas enhanced by the mint and shallots. Works well with the squid ink tapioca crackers.

Bread and Creamy Butter

The bread (not homemade) was offered in slices in a basket, where you had to take out a slice by yourself. That felt weird. Slices were kind of sticking together, so you were touching the other slices while you took one. This is wrong. I suggest to service the slice instead of having to take it yourself.

Grilled Cornish Mackerel, Smoked Eel, Sweet Mustard and Leek (£13.50)

We asked when ordering and they confirmed this was a warm dish. Joanne doesn’t eat cold fish and we would like to share, so we checked. When the dish was served, it wasn’t warm unfortunately. Plate was stone cold which didn’t help. Think it was a mistake from the waiting staff and not the kitchen.
Nice fresh mackerel though. The smoked eel was not really traceable in the dish. Fresh acidity from the leek and mustard complemented by the carrot and asparagus. Oyster leaf finished it off nicely.

Cannelloni of Rabbit Shoulder, White Asparagus, Wild Garlic, Bacon and Morels (£15.50)

Cannelloni of rabbit was luke warm, but comforting flavours and taste. Nicely seasoned. Pesto was rich in hazelnuts together with the wild garlic. Good amount of morels and bit of salty crunch from the bacon.

Roast Rump of Veal, Young Garlic, White Asparagus, Jersey Royals and Morels (£26.95)

Veal nice and succulent. Would have liked it a bit more pink myself. Again morels and white asparagus. Had that with the starter too (asparagus in both starters). Seems a bit more of the same. Well seasoned and good flavours. Jus was excellent. Potatoes tasted like tin potatoes which was disappointing. Immaculate plate of food, but nothing really special.

Slow Cooked Iberico Pork, Spring Carrots, Cracked Wheat, Wild Nettle and Radish (£27.50)

Pork was beautifully cooked. The cracked wheat was nice as well. Radish adds a bit of excitement. Decent portion though, would do with a bit less of the wheat. Again not really special. Really struggle to see the Michelin Star quality of this kitchen actually. Plate of the pork a lot warmer than the veal by the way. They must have had a broken light on the pass or something.

Vanille Croustade, Gariguette Strawberries, White Chocolate Cream, Buttermilk and Pistachio (£8.50)

The cream a bit soury from the buttermilk, which gave a nice freshness and good balance with the sweet strawberries. Bavarois rich and quite sweet. Nice crunch from the filo pastry and pistachio. Comforting, nice dessert.

Chocolate Pavé, Salt Caramel, Banana Ice Cream and Lime (£8)

Chocolate Pavé perfect in execution and taste. Caramel sauce tasted just a bit burnt. Banana ice cream was nice and smooth, but could do with a bit more lime, also to cut through the rich chocolate.

The restaurant was quite noisy, especially when it was starting to fill up. To many tables cramped into the dinning room doesn’t help with that either. You really feel too close for comfort to your neighbours. Atmosphere felt more like being in a pub, instead of a restaurant. The waiting staff adds to that atmosphere as well by walking around too much without doing anything, leaving tables uncleared for too long and serving the dishes without explanation. Also walking about with a phone in one back pocket and a kitchen towel hanging out of the other is just too much.

Although I couldn’t really fault the dishes, they really need fine tuning and refining. Good, comforting food with pleasant flavours, but nothing special. The use of the same garnishes in the starters and mains makes you feel you just eat more of the same and the plating is quite rustic and make the dishes look a bit the same as well. The desserts were the best dishes of this dinner, where refinement was more visible also in the taste and flavour.

Be in no doubt, this is me taking them at the high standards they have set themselves. Neighbourhood it may well be, but with starters in the mid teens and most mains in the high twenties, it is not cheap! I would be very happy to get these dishes in any pub, with the atmosphere to match. But for a high-end restaurant this is below par and I fail to see Michelin star quality.