Kitchen W8: winner of best restaurant in this year’s Eat Game Awards
An affordable gem of a restaurant, just off Kensington High Street
One of my pet hates is those supermarket offerings of plums and apricots labelled “ripen at home.” They never do. We have no business eating plums and apricots out of season anyway. Apricots should only be eaten in June, July and August and plums from September …. when the warm sun has done its bit.
Shopping locally and eating in season will of course save money, food miles and ensure your food has the best flavours.
So when a chef describes himself as a “season-addict” then you know you’re in the right hands. Kitchen W8 won Best Restaurant in the Eat Game Awards earlier this year and on being awarded the prize Head Chef Mark Kempson commented: “Being season-addicts at Kitchen W8, we’re huge fans of game, and every October we put on a 6-course game tasting menu to celebrate this wonderfully versatile and healthy meat.”
A real treat
Kitchen W8 sits on a quiet street just off Kensington High Street. It opened in 2009 and won its first Michelin Star in 2o11. The restaurant’s set menu is £31.50 for two courses, either lunchtime or evening, from Tuesday to Friday. It’s the sort of restaurant to go to for a real treat that won’t break the budget. Surely it’s better to forego a few indifferent restaurant chain meals and save up your money to come here instead, where you know you’ll get delicious food and superb value for money.
If you do however want to push the boat out a bit, you can opt for the tasting menu at £95.
Airy and spacious
I visited on a beautiful spring evening with an old school friend.
This is a restaurant that doesn’t particularly look or feel like a restaurant. It really does feel like a home from home (well, the dining area I aspire to have). Light wallpapers and calico covered chairs give a personal feel. An airy spacious dining room with exquisite food but without any uncomfortable formality.
We had decided already to eat from the set menu and two temptingly fizzing gin and tonics (East London gin – recommended) hit the spot whilst we tried to make up our minds between what was on offer. White onion hummus with truffle chips and rice crackers arrived alongside the gins. The sort of appetiser that makes you realise just how hungry you really are and impatient for the main event. There was also a side of homebaked sourdough for dipping into the hummus.
What we ate
Catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen since the pandemic and having to make deliciously impossible menu decisions wasn’t quick but in the end I opted for asparagus served alongside Jersey Royals, black truffle, wild leeks and hazelnut. The asparagus had a perfectly cooked bite.
Susie had opted for the shaved cauliflower, a generously proportioned dish with the preserved lemon and ewe’s curd adding a side of tanginess.
So many flavours, so many choices. So we decided to give the sommelier the responsibility of choosing what we drank and she expertly paired the dishes with wines by the glass. A 2021 Soave Classico with the shaved cauliflower and a 2019 Tasman Chardonnay with the asparagus. Drinking the perfect wine with a dish heightens the culinary experience, and as Kitchen W8 serves recommended wines by the glass at cost price (all part of its emphasis on “getting our pricing right” why would you do anything else?
For our main course I opted for roast chicken with a ravioli of morels, smoked sausage, wilted lettuce and garlic. With this I drank a glass of Italian red, Schioppettino di Cialla which had hints of red berries and spices, holding its own perfectly against the strong flavours.
Old School Friend had opted for cod fillet. She is a pretty useful cook herself and was highly impressed with the fish, commenting that it was perfectly flaked, which is very hard to do. The accompanying 2020 Semillon was excellently chosen.
Finally, pudding beckoned and we shared a generous helping of strawberry and elderflower fool. After one mouthful I was regretting sharing it with anybody; the elderflower was an elegant pairing with the seasonal strawberries.
But what about the game?
At this point you might be wondering where the game on the menu was and why I didn’t choose it. Well I went in May and there was no game on the menu at the time.
However, from the grouse season onwards game will be making an appearance on the menu once more and venison too of course.
Why you should go to Kitchen W8
Set menu (available January to November)
Early Evening – Tuesday to Friday £31.50 for 2 courses, £34.50 for 3 courses (6.00pm-6.30pm)
Visit Kitchen W8 here to view the wine list and current menu options.