Bloggers Dos Hermanos panned Kitchen W8. But this week, Bloomberg’s Richard Vines raved about it. With my friend BK, I gave the place a go this past Wednesday, curious to see with whom I’d agree most. And as is often the case, the reality was somewhere in the middle: I enjoyed my meal there and would be happy to go back, but I wouldn’t cross town just to eat there again.
BK, a lover of all things meaty, ordered the much-written-about game hotdog, which he let me try. Contrary to Dos Hermanos’s experience where the gamy flavor of the sausage was overshadowed by the sugary-tangy “ketchup,” in our version of the dish, there was just enough of said ketchup to complement the meaty flavors of the sausage without overwhelming it. Sipping the bacon cream and game consomme added a smooth saltiness to balance out the sugary-meatiness of the hot dog. I liked it.
My foie gras mousse was a little too much of a good thing. I started out loving this dish: a little sweetness from the raisin puree mixing with the salty-meatiness of the foie gras mousse. But the bowl was huge, and after running out of toasts, I couldn’t bring myself to eat anymore of what was, essentially, a bowl of heavy cream and fat. I would’ve liked this dish more if it had come in a smaller bowl with a greater proportion of foie gras mousse.
BK loved his halibut fillet – currently the most popular dish on the menu, according to the Bloomberg review. The fish was firm without being overcooked, and I loved the crispness, sharpness and stink of the Beaufort crust. Much-needed moisture came from a bed of sweet reduced onions and a few chanterelles. Definitely one of the better fish dishes I’ve had in a while, but I could take it or leave it. After all, I’m rarely wowed by fish unless I’m eating it by the sea and know it’s jumped straight out of the water onto my plate.
My generous portion of roast duck breast was rare and tender, and the crispy caramelized endive tart was a good accompaniment. Like most of the other dishes we had that night, the duck was simply prepared and expertly cooked.
It’s true that none of the dishes caused fireworks, but I’m a fan of Kitchen W8′s ability to churn out crowd-pleasing dishes that are well executed. The portions are generous, the room is casual-elegant and welcoming, and the staff were friendly. Tap water was never a problem, and there are plenty of wines by the carafe and by the glass.
BK and I shared two side dishes (including a forgettable one of buttered potatoes), an enormous cheese course and a carafe of wine to go with our two starters and two mains. Our total with service was £90.
I’d go back. Kitchen W8 is a high-quality neighborhood place that’s versatile – equally good for dates, get-togethers with friends and business meals. For Christmas this year, I hope Santa Claus brings me something similar for Angel Islington.
Kitchen W8, 11-13 Abingdon Road, W8 6AH; 0207 937 0120; closest tube station: High Street Kensington