Adam Simmonds is stepping up the gastronomy game in Kensington with his latest restaurant, Pavilion.
Despite being home to hoards of hungry hedge fund managers, Kensington is not known for its restaurants. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to think of anywhere particularly notable aside from Lauceston Place, which was considered modern and exciting when it opened...28 years ago.
A quality new eatery in these parts has therefore been a long time coming, so the arrival of Pavilion on Kensington High Street last month couldn't have been more necessary. Overseen by Head Chef Adam Simmonds (of ‘Great British Menu' fame, along with a few Michelin stars), the menu is exciting enough to tempt diners out of Soho, but doesn't alienate the classic West London customer.
Located on the ground floor of Pavilion members club (previously known as Dryland), the restaurant is arranged around a beautiful marble bar, complete with glass pillars and brass inlays. It all feels very Gatsby, particularly with the dangerously boozy cocktail menu including a martini ‘trilogy' which is actually three individual martinis, accidentally ordered by my companion to her horror.
Slightly worse for wear, we were seated near the open kitchen and started dinner with the roast breast of quail and the slow-cooked pork belly. Both were tender and delicious; the pork belly in particular, served with black pudding, langoustines and pineapple, was an unusual combination which worked brilliantly. The roast lamb cutlets were a little heavy on the pesto but beautifully cooked, while the lobster salad was generous and light. Quality classics such as tiramisu and pannecotta were on offer for dessert, but these were entirely eclipsed by the bold cheese board featuring an English and French selection. Dinner was washed down with a nice 2010 Bordeaux, from the extensive but reasonably priced wine list, with bottles starting at £18.50.
Pavilion may be attached to an exclusive members club (with prices starting from £95 per month), but the restaurant feels warm and inviting, largely due to the friendly staff. While I'm not sure if this sparks the beginning of a Kensington restaurant renaissance, they're certainly heading in the right direction.
Cuisine: Modern European
Dinner for two (excluding drinks): £90
Wine: £6.50 - £8.95 (175ml)
96 Kensington High Street
London W8 4SG
Tel: 020 7221 2000