There’s always been something ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ about High Street Kensington’s eateries. While restaurants in nearby Notting Hill Gate and Knightsbridge groan under the weight of their plaudits and Michelin stars HSK has always been home to the kind of chain restaurants and unpretentious local places destined to just make a living from penny-pinching tourists. Until now that is, because from the ashes of an unlovely ‘business members club’ has risen the area’s first proper, grown-up kind of restaurant for ages. There’s an elegant, mid-Atlantic vibe to Pavilion; it mixes classic European Art Deco furnishings with New York-style up-at-the-counter eating; a charcuterie and fromagerie counter that wouldn’t look out of place in Paris with a cocktail list that smacks of Mad Men-era sophistication. All well and good, but what of the food? Well luckily it’s just as classy as the setting. The open kitchen is home to Adam Simmonds – previously at his own Michelin-starred restaurant at Danesfield House – who has conjured up a menu of locally sourced, innovative and complex cooking. Melt-in-the-mouth mackerel was paired with oyster mayonnaise, while a dish of spring asparagus and morels in a pea veloute made a winning case for Simmonds’ seasonal-food philosophy. Kudos too to a cocktail list that includes a fabulous triple-martini-taster – three local spirits with fresh accompaniments on the side. This is just what the neighbourhood needed, and if the constant stream of would-be diners turned away from the soft opening was anything to go by, Pavilion is going to be here for many years to come.
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