Kitchen W8, Kensington, London
Good bread -- I loved the savoury onion flavour embedded in the pumpkin bread, the texture lovely -- dense, soft and slightly chewy.
Delicately thin yet firm pasta wrapping in the raviolo, filled with lightly flavoured quail. Stronger flavours dominate (and somewhat overwhelm the quail) -- the rich savoury sweetness of soft brown smoked onions, smoky salty bacon, contrast from sweet nubs of corn, slippery crunch from the wood and earth of girolles.
An immense and intense girolle puree -- evocative flavours and remarkably smooth, one of the best sauces I've tasted in a while, magnificent. It supported a graceful piece of cod that was poached in brown butter, leaving the smallest trace of chew in the soft fibres, flaking easily on the fork, yet held together well on its own. Other accessories were oceany sempphire, nutty brown prawns, more salty smoky bacon, and what seemed like some of the poaching liquid. Nice pieces of gnocchi, tender but not paste-like, pleasant pieces of artichoke. A pretty solid combination of flavours that was somewhat marred by excessive salt, perhaps from the bacon.
A pleasant white chocolate and cream cheese mousse pipped as a medium-thick wavy log, serve to focus various crunchy bites -- a blueberry meringue, oat crumbles -- as well as marinated strawberry and iirc basil ice cream.
Solid on the whole, great technique where sauces were deep and ingredients were cooked just right. Decent flavour combinations that seem tried and true, nothing too daring, which suits a neighbourhood place like this just fine. Not perfect, given the over salting etc., but nothing that one would consider criminal.
It's good to see someone else having visited Kitchen W8. I was taking my cousin out earlier this year for his first visit to a top end restaurant so wanted somewhere relatively reasonably priced (since I was picking up the tab), interesting food but not too formal. I debated here or Launceston Place and couldn't find any feedback on Kitchen W8 but was happy with what we got. Nothing to blow your mind away but solid reliable classic style but tarted up a bit for a slightly more contemporary dining.
What does however make me laugh is if you compared this with another one Michelin starred restaurant establishment such as the L'Enclume or - in my neck of the woods - Martin Wishart and The Kitchin. There is no comparison in my eyes. I don't know how much involvement Phil Howard here but having seen Great British Menu this year it does make me wonder if solid French style fair is what he targets.
I think you have to conclude that Michelin are happy for 1* to cover a very wide field. So wide as to make you wonder about it (but that's became an annual foody discussion point in recent years)
If, say, 1* is right for somewhere like the Harwood Arms then surely you wonder why the likes of L'Enclume or Fraiche are also 1*. Of course, you might also say that 1* is right for L'Enclume and Fraiche - which would ask the question as to why the likes of the Harwood or the Royal Oak Paley Street have a star.
Must admit that, much as it's fun to look at star ratings, I find the more accurate relative assessments to be in the Good Food Guide (new edition out today, I understand). The Guide gives Kitchen W* a 5 and L'Enclume & Fraiche 9 and 7 respectively (both being in their top 50 in the country - as are Martin Wishart and the Kitchin). I've been a contributor to the Guide for many years - predating the world of discussion boards, twitter, facebook and the like - and still find it *the* place to find good restaurants round the country, using, as it does, mainly customer contributions, supported by professional inspection.
I agree with in reference to the GFG. One of my friends does the professional inspections so I join him on some of his visits. There is always going to be an element of subjectivity to any review based on an individual's perception and even based on a particular day at the restaurant but the GFG scoring system tends to give me a rough idea as to what to expect.