Michelin-starred Kitchen W8 sits just off High Street Kensington, and moments from the Design Museum if you are planning a visit.
It has a very relaxed ambience for a Michelin-starred restaurant, with skilled, friendly front of house staff and a mix of diners: pre-theatre tourists, dates and friends catching up. It would be a great choice for a mixed group - high end without being at all intimidating.
My starter was a gorgeously creamy St Austell Bay mussel soup, poured at the table over new season's mousserons and served with crispy mussel Kievs. The little bite-sized mussel Kievs were an inspired addition; mussels have a natural affinity with garlic but this was a new one on me; a lovely textural element to the soup course.
The sommelier recommended a Domaine Sève Pouilly-Fuissé Aux Chailloux, recently upgraded to a 1er Cru. The wine is matured for ten months in a careful mix of new and used oak which gives more roundness than actual oakiness; it was surprisingly delicate and a perfect match to the creamy seafood soup.
The mid-course was linguine with Périgord truffles and 36-month aged Parmesan. Having previously tasted the difference between young and aged Parmesan, I was very much looking forward to this and it certainly didn't disappoint. As you lift the first forkful there is a waft of scented steam that heightens all your senses; when that fork reaches your mouth it is umami heaven.
Much like those moreish mussel Kievs, this is a masterclass in 'simple, but not easy'. Linguine, truffles, Parmesan: the fewer the ingredients, the more important the balance becomes. This was utterly delicious.
My main was haunch of Aynhoe Park Venison, bacon choucroute, celeriac, pear & green peppercorns. Everything so far had been very good, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and defy any chef anywhere to cook venison better than this. Beautifully soft and rare in the middle, perfectly tender and moist, with exactly the right amount of intensity and gaminess; this was truly exceptional.
The venison was accompanied by a faggot, rich and satisfyingly dense, and a slice of grilled pear to add sweetness. Oh, and you know when you're watching GBM or Masterchef, and they say that the celeriac puree is like silk? It's this puree. Outstanding attention to every detail; kudos to chef Mark Kempson and his team.
This is the dessert of Marcona almond financiers, thyme roasted plums, stem ginger and vanilla ice cream. I'm afraid I can't tell you much more about it, as I took this picture as it was on its way to another table; I was so full I just couldn't make it to dessert. All I can say is that, going by the rest of the meal, I bet it's fabulous. If you try it, let me know.
Here is Kitchen W8's private dining room, which I'm showing you partly to let you know that they have one and partly because - how gorgeous is that wall? This design continues through into the main dining room with huge mirrors reflecting the natural light, exemplifying the mix of classical and contemporary that extends into the menu.
Kitchen W8 has a special game menu running from 12th-23rd October, which will feature a starter that sounds the very definition of autumnal: Yorkshire grouse consommé and grouse tartlet, with spiced bread sauce and hedgerow jelly. Subsequent delights include a warm partridge salad, venison faggot, mallard with sweet and sour beets, orange & thyme, finishing with a brown butter & hazelnut tart with damson. This year, Kitchen W8 took home the Best Restaurant Award in the national Eat Game Awards so if you're planning on eating game anywhere, I'd make it here. This menu is going to be special.
Book Kitchen W8 here.
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Deputy Editor, Chatting Food London: Amanda David
Amanda David is a freelance food writer specialising in London’s restaurants, bars, exhibitions and events. She is the Events Editor for London Cheapo and a regular contributor to Palate Magazine.
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