John Doe Notting Hill
46 Golborne Road, W10 5PR
020 8969 3280/www.johndoerestaurants.com/
Adjoining the north end of Portobello Rd is Golborne Rd which is Portobello’s sexy little brother. It has its own market with traders dealing in street food, housewares and bric-a-brac and is studded with North African and Portuguese cafés and bakeries. Because of the two markets the street bustle with traders and punters which creates a lot of atmosphere and a lack of parking spaces for interlopers like myself and her ladyship.
John Doe opened in October 2014 on the site of La Sophia, a local standby, with chef Mark Blatchford at the helm backed by business partners who shared his passion for sustainability. So there is no eco-unfriendly beef on the daily-changing menu but a focus on venison; and the kitchen is gas free with Bertha the charcoal oven as its centrepiece.
The interior is fairly cramped and Hoxton-styled in 60s worker’s canteen chic with chairs that don’t encourage lingering. However I have come with her ladyship who is resplendent in her new white faux fur Cossack hat and we bring some old-fashioned glamour to the proceedings..
The menu is divided into starters and mains but the food arrives as it is ready as is de rigeur these days. This is fine but if you order four starters, as we did, and they all come at once, then there isn’t enough table space to cope comfortably. There was also a cock-up regarding a main course order. It wasn’t really anyone’s fault but the error was charmingly rectified so all was well. Those were the negatives-as for the food, well it was pretty spectacular.
We were swigging away a bottle of almondy Trebbiano Rocca Puglia 2013 when our first dish of ash roasted leeks with caper, lentil and tarragon dressing (£6) turned up. The leeks were sweet and tiny with a delicious char and offset by the vinegar piquancy of the dressing. A dandelion, fennel, chicory, blood orange and hazelnut salad (£7) was a delicious combo of bitter and aniseed, sweet and crunch.
Stuffed Mackerel, pomegranate, cauliflower couscous and harissa (£7.50) was rich and meaty with the Moroccan spicing pimping up the fish and cutting through its natural oiliness.
Grilled octopus, chickpeas and aioli (£8) was a triumph of texture but needed more of a boot up the backside from the aioli which was too Clark Kent for its own good.
Roe doe haunch steak, bone marrow, watercress salad and fries (£22) was a beautiful piece of meat, seared and bloody complemented by the bone marrow’s essence of umami…oh and the chips were good.
A glass of Elegance Muscat Pays d’Oc 2006 had a lush over-ripened sweetness which set us up for our three desserts…an elegant rice pudding with rhubarb compote (£6), an unctuous Valrhona chocolate terrine with pistachio cream (£7) and a melting Valrhona chocolate and griottine cherry fondant (£7). Don’t be censorious about the three desserts …
There’s not much better than a good idea and John Doe is a really good one that is well executed. Carbon cooking is all the rage now so go and have a poke around the market and then go and satiate your inner carnivore (and take a cushion).