West London isn’t my usual haunt – the leafy green scapes of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea are foreign to me, but a foodie meetup with Zomato is as good reason as any to venture over to the other side. A short stroll from Notting Hill station, I’m already in a different world. This isn’t what my neck of the woods looks like. I’m so intent on photographing I’m almost run over by a oligarch-driven SUV. (The SUV part is true anyway)
An array of drinks greets us at the door and we congregate in the bar area for a few minutes before everyone is ushered through to the main restaurant. We can all barely squeeze into the long table set up for us at one end (If you’re stuck in the middle, there’s no escaping!) and I think this is a restaurant more suited to intimate tete a tete’s, gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes, or perhaps in more smaller groups tucked under one of the arches, but we’re all settled in and with our own special event menus to gaze upon.
I am feeling pretty happy – Seafood, LOVE it, Pork, YUM. So far, I’m happy.
The breads come out in a cute little sack, but I’m reluctant to really jump in to the breads, the menu looks pretty hefty and I don’t want to be regretting this bread decision later. So I nibble politely on one corner, being even more miserly with the lovely fragrant olive oil.
But then the food starts to arrive and I can pat myself on the back for showing such admirable self restraint. The spider crab mousse is the winner of the day, there is a concentration of delightful seafoody flavours crammed into such a small dish, pillows of savoury doughnut holding it all together and providing a bit of bite. The cod burger (aka the Mac Silva) also delicious but not surprisingly so, just normal delicious.
I’d not come across Tiborna alentejana before, this was the cute Bridge of Pata Negra on the thinnest sliver of Sourdough with truffled yolk. I couldn’t taste the individual elements too clearly what with the Pata negra having its own strong ham-y flavour. The seabass ceviche needed a bit more zing to it, it was a bit bland, which is unfortunate for Ceviche!
The jamon croquetas were soft and warm and despite their richness, maintained their fresh flavours. The chef popped out to talk to us briefly about the food & wine pairings but if I’m brutally honest, I could barely hear a word he said. Something about red wine served with the seafood courses, instead of the white as was standard. I do wish they’d explained (louder) each course to us as I would have loved to know a lot more about the Spanish/Portuguese blend of food we were eating!
The main was next – Pork again, this time accompanied with a lentil cake, couscous and red cabbage. I found myself quite enjoying the cabbage but the lentils/ cous cous tasted a little too much like dhal for my liking and I wasn’t that keen. The asparagus risotto had no discernable taste of saffron in it (actually I’ve only realised it was meant to just now, when re-reading the menu) and the Patatas Bravas were inexplicably dreadful. No really, actually inedible. We’re probably the only group ever to not eat the chips on the table.
At this point in the evening, things got a little strange. I assumed dessert was on its way and we waited. And waited some more. Afflicted with girl flu, I abstained from the vino, which was really no fun at all and the crew around me decided to give cocktails a go! Summoning the waiter over and asking for cocktails turned into a long involved process and I remained jealous, but virtuously declined. After a long ol’ while, while everyone continued with their (delicious) cocktails, I concluded that dessert wasn’t forthcoming and since it’s a long way to the other end of London, I bade the group farewell.
Judging by the fact that dessert arrived at some stage after I left, I can only conclude that the kitchen was having some form of dessert crisis, hence the long wait. Quite disappointed as the dessert is the best part of any meal! I would have been extremely happy with starters & a dessert actually – and that goes for almost every restaurant I’ve been to!
The best part of the evening was chatting to Zomato and other food lovers and bloggers, comparing our favourites, talking about our blogs and putting faces to many who are familiar to me, from checking out their blogs and hanging on to every word they say on Twitter.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Zomato UK & Notting Hill Kitchen, but all opinions, as always are my own.