All photos in this post courtesy of NHYM 2015 apart from one.
Food: 3.8 stars
Atmosphere: 3.85 stars
Service: 4 stars
Design: 4 stars
Price/Value: 3.8 stars
Overall: 3.85 stars
First floor Bar/Restaurant Courtesy of the Internet NHYM 2015
Paradise isn’t a new restaurant, but they have just put in place a new Head Chef, Cat Ashton, straight from the Petersham Nurseries to head their kitchen, and I was cordially invited to try their new menu last week. My friends fall into two camps; those cool/hipster ones that said ‘Paradise is really cool, great place!’ when I told them I was going, while the others looked at me blankly/abject wonder when I told them I was going to Kensal Green for dinner. They responded: ‘Non! Kensaal Greeen?’ shaking their heads ‘I ‘ave never ‘eard of eet!’ These latter are some of my Euro-continental friends who have never left SW3 to SW7, but I felt that it was time I covered a restaurant that may not be as polished or groomed as some of the others, but makes it up more than enough in character and colour.
The Restaurant Dining Room NHYM 2015.
Paradise is more than just a restaurant, it is a 3 levelled area of Gastro-pub, private rooms, bar and club. On the ground floor, as you are welcomed by a giant statue of an angel, there is a front bar and a private dining room on the right, with the main dining room at the back. On the first floor is a club/bar where DJs spin on weekend nights, when it gets so packed it reminds me of my first ever Metallica concert when I was 13 years old… ie. way past my age-tolerance. On other nights, they host all kinds of open-mic, poetry nights, and special events, for the true trendsters out there. In Notting Hill terms, this place could be a hybrid of Beach Blanket Babylon and the First Floor Restaurant on Portobello, decorated with religious iconography, chandeliers, candelabras, old Renaissance-style oil paintings on the wall, and mismatched wooden chairs.
Restaurant Dining Room NHYM 2015.
But back to the restaurant, which is what I was asked to review, compliments of the house. The menu is solid English comfort food staples with a twist of sweetness (Cat must have a sweet tooth). We started off the dinner with Flower Courgette Tempura filled with Ricotta Cheese, which was quite creamy and unctuous with a honey sweetness, and a Burrata which was satisfyingly good. For our mains, both of us chose the steak. We are both hearty meat-eaters and we had the asparagus and honey-butter Rib Eye steak, which was good. Not mind-blowing good, but good nonetheless and satisfying. On the sides, we had polenta chips with parmesan, and if you hadn’t noticed, Polenta is currently all the rage at the moment.
The service was good, almost a bit too attentive, although they brought the potatoes instead of polenta at first, but quickly rectified it with a profuse apology. The wait staff were all very friendly and helpful, and actually all had English as their first language, which is quite a rarity in London.
Rib Eye Steak and polenta chips NHYM 2015.
For our desserts, we had the Pavlova with mango, which we were told was really the dessert to have, and was quite caramel-like chewy, and made us feel like two kids eating Carambar (a caramel candy from my youth which sticks to your teeth for the rest of the evening, for those who don’t know) and the Sticky Date Pudding, butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice-cream, which was a twist from the usual Sticky toffee pudding, but which was equally as indulgent.
Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and Mango Pavlova NHYM 2015.
We had an early seating, which was a novice’s mistake, as the place only really gets crowded around 8:30/9pm (tip: don’t go before 8:30pm), when it filled up with an eclectic crowd of Americans, French, English and other nationalities. Next to us was an Asian couple on probably their Friday-Night-Fourth-Date, filled with slight nervous excitement, flirting and compliments. ‘Ah young love’ I said looking at my husband, dreamily remembering our fourth date. This was date night for us, but a slightly different date night: ‘let’s-get-out-of-here-we-need-a-break-from-our-kids-date-night’. Next to them were two older women having a nice Friday night dinner together. The crowd was mixed, young and old, one table was intergenerational, while another table had a table 10 young men celebrating a birthday. Some tables were trendy, some weren’t. (The private room in the front was filled with 10 giggling, dressed to the 9s, probably celebrating a hen night).
We left as the younger versions of ourselves came in. I can’t comment on the rest of the place that night as we had a baby-curfew (the time when it’s time to go home because you know you will be woken up at 5am by your toddler), but from what I saw, it is place for a fun night out with a group, where the main agenda of the night is to have a good, fun night, which in some restaurants in London is hard to find (some friends have accused Chiltern Firehouse to be more about people-watching than enjoying one’s self). Dinner was Gastro-pub Good, but in a creatively goth surrounding. Mr. X really enjoyed Paradise and feels quite at home there, less ‘see and be seen’ than some of our Notting Hill/Mayfair restaurants we often frequent. So, if you’re in the neighbourhood, this one should be on top of your list to check out, Goth and all.