Writer Jo Aspin takes a trip to West London to trial Bucket’s new Autumn Menu.
Mid-way into a busy working week and after a ten minute schlep down Queensway, stumbling into Bucket on Westbourne Grove to be greeted with laid back beach vibes, smiley staff and a menu entirely devoted to fish and seafood was a very welcome start indeed.
We were seated in one of the booths opposite the bar, each side with its own sofa along with plush pillows and an abundance of wood and whicker on the bar, overhead lampshades and seating - it really did evoke a fancy-ish version of a beach ‘shack’.
The staff were delightful, and the restaurant manager ticked all the right boxes. Firstly they suggested we try a lovely bottle of Sardinian Vermentino – uh yes please, and secondly ‘persuading us’ into trying two types of oysters: the house variety from Mersea in Essex and ‘Amazing’ oysters sourced from France – which lived up to their name.
Complimentary fresh sourdough with butter was served on arrival too. A nice touch!
Bucket’s latest menu created by new Head Chef, Mack Barnstable draws influences from across the Mediterranean, including Italian, Spanish, Greek and Levantine flavours – the focal point being sustainably sourced fish.
Food is split into ‘raw’, ‘small plates’, ‘buckets’ – where you can opt for varying sized buckets of seafood including calamari, soft shell crab and mussels, and the ‘grill’ – which out of all the sections veers most off the seafood theme. The grill features spatchcock chicken, rib eye and grilled halloumi if you’re the type of diner that just doesn’t like to comply.
I wanted to order ALL of the raw section but didn’t want to appear too greedy. After deliberation -a stand-off between my dining partner and I AKA my husband – we opted for ‘chalk stream trout tartare with pickled apple, kohlrabi, cucumber and dill’ (the one I wanted, obviously).
It was absolutely delicious – superbly fresh with a zingy punchy marinade.
From the small plates, we went for ‘Piri-Piri prawns with smashed avocado and green chilli’ - which consisted of several chunky-sized grilled king prawns served on skewers with guacamole on the side. Another winner!
We followed with the catch of the day mixed grill for two – salmon steak, seabass and monkfish – and opted for a green sauce to go with it plus sides dishes of Jerusalem artichoke and polenta. The fish selection was nice but did not stand out, the herby green sauce being the best thing on the plate. Unfortunately, the artichoke was chewy and overcooked, and the polenta lacked taste.
However, we ended on a high with a sticky toffee pudding to share, and what a pudding it was – a huge big portion of fluffy warm sponge topped with faultless ‘toffee’ sweet sauce – a tasty end to prepare us for heading back out into the cold.
What a treat! Seafood without the snobbishness – just the way it should be. If Bucket was on my doorstep, I’d be at that beach all year round!
107 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, London, W2 4UW
Chatting Food Contributor Jo Aspin
Half American / half (born and bred) Londoner, Jo Aspin is a food writer and established freelance food, drink and lifestyle PR. She’ll be reporting on all the latest restaurant openings and news from the capital. When she’s not eating her way around London, she’s planning her next trip abroad: Next stop Tamil Nadu.