The passion behind Notting Hill Kitchen is driven by two experts in the field of food; Luis Baena and Filipa Texeira. Excitingly, this is award-winning Baena’s London debut, who’s 28 year career has seen him training with top chefs all over the world from Belgium to the States and Hong Kong. In Portugal he is an absolute food hero, he’s the guy that has travelled and worked with a lot of high profile chefs. He has written books, been on TV and also consults for large hotel groups. You could almost describe him as the Jamie Oliver of Portugal. Who better to appoint for head chef of Notting Hill Kitchen?
Our group of 12 visited earlier this month. Sat quietly on Kensington Park Road, the gorgeous Edwardian building is serenely lit up by beautiful street lanterns and Mediterranean blue tiles; quite detached from the typical hippy style Portobello Road restaurants. Notting Hill Kitchen has more style & finesse than them; be sure to bring your table manners and shine your shoes.
You’ll enter into a dimly lit room with a slick bar serving devilish cocktails where you can potter about and ‘mingle’ (horrid word?). There’s a defining romantic ambiance lingering here, it’s date material. If you’re dining, you’ll be led to one of the scattered dining rooms where the mood is rather more formal. It’s a fantastic layout, with gorgeous décor, festooned in bottles of Douro reds and glistening lights.
Portuguese food has never shone as it should in London, because it’s not so simple to ‘get’, compared with the burger trend, the pizza joints, the French bistros, and it’s also not as cheap. Excitingly, when you see it laid down on Notting Hill Kitchen’s menu there’s no denying the beauty of it. If you’ve had the pleasure of eating out in Lisbon, it’ll take you straight back.
The small menu changes daily, there are only a handful of choices for each course. To start, we were graced with shared Petiscos of:
- Tiborna alentejana which was something new to me, this was the cute Bridge of Pata Negra on the thinnest sliver of Sourdough with truffle oil – divine.
2. Sea bass ceviche with corn, fennel, tomato, coriander & lime was very light – perfectly refreshing for me but others wanted more punch in the flavours.
3. Madeira flat bread with beef steak – a classy burger?
The foolproof wine list is what makes Notting Hill Kitchen outstanding. Eclectic bottles from all over Portugal & Spain with top quality Spanish names featuring like Aalto & Ossian.
Main courses were very much enjoyed, split into ‘land’ and ‘sea’ menus:
For me, the black tea smoked Swordfish was something special. Truly, it was one of the most enjoyable fishplates i’ve had in London. Chunky, smoky, pink in the middle served over a traditional Lisboan base; creamed Carolino rice with green beans. It was wholly more satisfying than a potato salad accompaniment, which is what you’d generally get served with fish in the UK.
Chorizo layered chicken breast with avocado mousse, artichoke and Vizcaino sauce I was told was very good. This delicious combination again very popular in Portugal.
One happy diner was very smug about her pork neck with potato, roasted garlic pudding and lupine couscous. A heartier, richer dish than the rest of which we were secretly envious of.
The most commonly seen fish in Portugal by far is Bacalao (slow cooked salt cod). Notting Hill Kitchen serves it in squid ink with chorizo, black beans and yoghurt dressing. A striking dish visually, but the Bacalao with the squid ink was just too salty for me. Lucky it wasn’t my dish.
Unfortunately dessert was just a pretty face; no real flavour from the frangipan tart came through. Judging by the rest of the menu, I’m sure we were just unlucky with this course. Portugal’s infamous Pasteis de Nata (custard tarts) would have gone down a storm – just a suggestion from a simple palate…!
I will be certainly visit the Notting Hill Kitchen team again, whether with my elderly semi-immobile grandmother or one of my mad friends, it’s a restaurant which comfortably caters for both types which is a feat in itself.
For some more spanish delights, see my review of Donostia
92 Kensington Park Road, London W11