It’s easy to work up an appetite in Kensington – home to some of the best museums in London plus the musical juggernaut that is the Royal Albert Hall. So whether you’re looking for some post-learning grub or a pre-show dinner, here’s a handy guide to the best places to eat in Kensington.
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Kitchen W8 is one of the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants in the city. The menu combines modern English cuisine with a French soul and changes with the season to include light, simple foods in the warmer months, and complex, hearty dishes in the colder ones. A culmination of their lovingly considered menu, great value for money, and understated-but-deliberate ingredients will ‘send you back out into the world feeling better than when you arrived’ – an ethos the company lives by.
Launceston Place is a hidden gem despite being right in the heart of Kensington. Head chef Ben Murphy is so passionate about using the best produce that his constantly changing menus offer as much local produce as the restaurant can cram in. A focus on ingredients from ethical sources, minimising waste and reducing energy consumption makes dinner here a soul-warming experience.
This chic Brompton Road restaurant serves exquisite Mediterranean-inspired dishes with cocktails to match. The interiors are an Instagrammer’s dream, with walls pasted with faux flowers, fairy lights and baby-pink neon lights. When it comes to drinks, creative cocktails steal the limelight – the MY&SANNÉ classic is a must (pink strawberry gin, yuzu, cherry brandy, lime juice, prosecco and tonic). The food is just as impressive, taking inspiration from Italian, Greek and Asian flavours. Whether you fancy the homemade tagliatelle with pulled lamb shoulder and spinach and saffron pecorino, or the Kamchatka crab burger, there’s something for all palates. Don’t leave without nabbing a treat from the grand glass cake counter. The intricately decorated desserts include homemade chocolate and mandarin cakes and delicate blueberry and elderflower tarts.
Olives Restaurant is a little taste of Italy in the heart of London, where chef Davide Di Croce takes classic Italian dishes and combines it with his own unique twist. It’s been awarded an AA Rosette for culinary excellence, so you might expect prices to be slightly higher, but that’s not the case. It serves an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, and a reasonably priced traditional English afternoon tea. To drink, there’s an extensive cocktail menu including long and short cocktails, shooters, flutes and martinis – perfect for after-work drinks that won’t break the bank.
The Havelock Tavern
Opened in 1996, the Havelock Tavern is one of the original gastropubs in London. But unlike many others that have come and gone since, it has done its best to change very little over the past 20 years. Don’t think of it as a restaurant in an old pub, more a pub with really great food. The atmosphere is lively and informal so anyone can eat, drink and feel at home – great if you’re looking for something a little more casual.
Ffiona’s is one of the oldest family-run restaurants in London – a longstanding hub with great food and drink and an atmosphere to match. They provide traditional British food with a modern twist, with dishes such as pan-fried duck breast with calvados, apple and parsnip chips. The Ffiona’s way is not only great grub, but also good community, which is why they put so much effort into their gorgeous venue. They believe dining in London is all too often an impersonal experience, and so offer a friendly and warm service for parties of any size.
Bluebird is known for its celebrity affiliations – Alan Carr, Gok Wan and the Made in Chelsea cast are all fans. The venue includes a restaurant, wine bar, café and courtyard, wine cellar and food store, and offers four private dining areas for corporate events, parties and even weddings. Their à la carte menu offers classic quality cuisine from salad and pie to monkfish and lobster, and the first-floor restaurant offers a surprisingly well-priced set menu. The bar is the perfect setting for after-work drinks, offering a broad selection of top wines and exciting cocktails. This affluent establishment really delivers and isn’t as exclusive as you might think.
You’ve got to love a venue that asks you to ‘lose an evening in the finest way possible’. Think light bites such as ham hock croquettes or charred squid and chorizo, alongside more filling dishes such as steak and eggs and kedgeree. Of particular note is the eggs in hell: two eggs poached in a tomato chilli sauce, Balans potatoes and parmesan. The cocktails are great too. However, if you want to push the boat out then order the Absinthe Fountain Ritual – a bohemian experience using the finest La Fée Parisienne absinthe. Best not to make plans for the next day.
Kensington Wine Rooms
There’s no better restaurant-cum-wine-bar in London than the Kensington Wine Rooms – perfect for both the discerning wine drinker and the judicious gourmand. The food has a British and European genesis, and focuses on high-quality, well-sourced ingredients that are simple and understated. At the wine bar, a selection of Spanish meats and cheeses are available to complement your tipple of choice. All the beers, gin and vodka are brewed and distilled locally, and the delicious food includes perfectly aged Scottish beef, Gressingham duck and acorn-fed Spanish jamon.
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