The district of Kensington boasts some of the most magnificent landmarks in London. It is home to the Albert Memorial, the Royal Albert Hall, the Speke Monument and Kensington Gardens, but it also plays host to a plethora of outstanding restaurants, bars and other venues that set the district apart in terms of culinary endeavors. Here we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the very best in the area.
Kitchen W8 prides itself on being the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurant in the city. In 2011, it was awarded with its Michelin star and has been able to retain it, as well as its prices, every year since. The menu consists of a combination of modern English cuisine with a ‘French soul’, with dishes such as ox tongue with barbecued beetroots, spiced carrots, sunflower and rye, and bresse pigeon with Norfolk asparagus, bulgur wheat, mousserons, hazelnut and parfait. The quality of the ingredients used is important to Kitchen W8, so you know you’re not only getting professionally prepared food, but food that has been grown with the highest level of care. Its menu changes with the season to include light, simple foods in the warmer months, and complex, hearty dishes in the colder ones, all of which encompass a wide range to suit everyone. It’s a culmination of Kitchen W8’s lovingly considered menu, great value for money and understated but very deliberate ingredients that allow it to ‘send you back out into the world feeling better than when you arrived’, an ethos the company is proud to live by.
Courtesy Kitchen W8
Launceston Place is a hidden gem despite it 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. Launceston Place received two AA Rosettes in 2017, while the wine list has won Tatler’s Best Wine List Award, the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine and Notable Wine List 2015 by the AA Guide. So it’s got quite a nice array of awards; you know your meal and wine will be top notch.
For real luxury, two Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury really delivers. Chef Brett Graham has worked and trained under such culinary names as Liam Tomlin and Philip Howard, and has since become a world-renowned chef on entirely his own merits. The Ledbury offers courses such as Hampshire buffalo milk curd, truffle toast and a broth of dried mushrooms, and for dessert, its olive oil cake with blood orange, white chocolate and tea. It is the supremely unique and exclusive menu options that creates such an appeal for this establishment, but it does come at a price. The Ledbury is undoubtedly an indulgent treat, but with food as extraordinary as this, you absolutely get what you pay for.
The Havelock Tavern
When it opened up back in 1996, the Havelock Tavern was one of London’s original gastropubs, but unlike many others that have come and gone since, it has done its best to change very little over the past twenty years. Rather than become a restaurant in an old pub building, it is more focused on being a pub that serves really good food, and that it does! The atmosphere is lively and informal so that anyone can eat, drink and feel at home, which is great if you’re looking for something a little more casual to catch up with mates over some good grub.
Olives Restaurant is a little taste of Italy in the heart of London. Its website claims that Chef Davide takes classic Italian dishes and combines the rustic and authentic flavours with his own unique twist. With an AA Rosette for culinary excellence, you would expect this place’s prices to be slightly higher than its lower quality counterparts, but part of Olives’ charm is that this is not the case. It serves an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, and a very reasonably priced full traditional English afternoon tea. To drink, it offers an extensive cocktail menu including long and short cocktails, shooters, flutes and martinis for the perfect accompaniment to dinner, or for after-work drinks that won’t break the bank.
21 years old, Ffiona’s is one of the oldest family-run restaurants in London, and is a longstanding hub of great food, drink and atmosphere. Ffiona’s pride itself on providing traditional British food with a modern twist, with such dishes on offer as pan-fried duck breast with Calvados, apple and parsnip chips and even its take on the classic chicken kiev. The Ffiona’s way is not only good food, but also good community, which is why the restaurant puts so much effort into its gorgeous venue. It believes that dining in London is all-too-often an impersonal experience, and offers a friendly and warm service for parties of any size, be that dinner for one or for 50. Its sense of community even extends to a significant online presence; fans can follow Ffiona and the restaurant on its online blog to get the latest of menu changes, recipes and goings-an at the establishment.
Kensington Wine Rooms
There’s no better restaurant-cum-wine bar in London than the Kensington Wine Rooms. Both a comfortable and relaxed bar and a functional and friendly restaurant, this place is perfect for both the discerning wine drinker and the judicious foodie. The food in the restaurant is of a decidedly British and European genesis, and focuses on good quality, well-sourced ingredients that are simplistic and understated. At the wine bar, a selection of Spanish meats and cheeses are available to complement your choice of wine. With an extensive selection of 150 Bins, and 40 wines available by the glass, there is a wine to reflect every taste and to complement every dish. 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. The Kensington Wine Rooms really does accommodate all tastes and price ranges, and you can be assured you’re eating and drinking the very best food and drink available.
Bluebird Chelsea is famous for its many celebrity affiliations, including Alan Carr, Gok Wan and the Made in Chelsea cast, but this restaurant is truly worth a visit on purely its own merits. 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 its first-floor restaurant offers a surprisingly well-priced set menu. Its bar is advertised as a destination in its own right, and is the perfect setting to enjoy after-work drinks, offering a broad selection of luxurious wines and exciting cocktails. This affluent establishment really delivers and isn’t as exclusive as you might think.
Courtesy Bluebird Chelsea
Clarke’s is a longstanding, high-quality restaurant in Kensington that offers not just great food, but a shop, bakery and online store, which provide homemade goods that are made fresh each day. Ingredients are sourced from specialist suppliers from the south of England, which is what shapes the menu day to day. Sally Clarke, owner for almost 30 years, writes the menu on a daily basis to ensure all the seasonally selected ingredients can create dishes with perfectly balanced textures, flavours and colours. This approach to culinary innovation has led Sally to write Sally Clarke’s Book, Recipes from a Restaurant, Shop and Bakery, which has won awards from Tatler Magazine and Glenfiddich. Their adjoining wholesale bread business produces up to 3,000 loaves a night, and delivers to the likes of The House of Commons, The Dorchester and The MCC at Lords, so quality is absolutely guaranteed, not just in the lovingly considered restaurant food, but in all its endeavours. A real master of all trades.
No list of Kensington restaurants would be complete without London’s legendary Kensington Place restaurant. Taking pride of place on the iconic Kensington Church Street, Kensington Place is a brassiere-cum-fish shop-cum-bar, that exceeds all expectations in its every venture. The food available has a decided focus on classic seafood with such dishes on offer as crab Caesar salad, beer-battered haddock and steamed mussels, and it even offers a fish market menu that features monkfish tail, sea bass, lemon sole and more. For those whose tastes are less inclined towards fish and seafood, the restaurant also provides braised suckling pig, rib-eye steak and chicken. It also has an in-house mixologist who is passionate about experimenting with fun and inventive ingredients to create delicious cocktails to be enjoyed in isolation or with the fantastic cuisine. For a small slice of authentic seafood and delicious cocktails alongside a self-proclaimed ‘neighbourhood vibe’ in an iconic London setting, the Kensington Place is the place to be.