West Thirty Six Notting Hill
36 Golborne Road, W10 5PR
www.w36.co.uk/0203 752 0530
Portobello Road’s upstart little brother Golborne Road is fast turning itself into a food destination with a couple of interesting recent openings alongside the Portuguese cafés and delis that give the area so much character. I was there a few weeks ago at charcoal grill specialist John Doe (see my review) and have returned to visit West Thirty Six which describes itself as serving ‘US-accented British fare… in a 4-storey townhouse with outdoor terraces and cosy lounges.’ Executive Chef is a rather bumptious ex-Big Brother contestant called Rex Newmark who is backed in his ventures by his father Robert. As well as West Thirty Six the Newmarks have Shoreditch and Notting Hill outposts of their Beach Blanket Babylon brand in their burgeoning portfolio.
In keeping with the theming of the food the ground floor restaurant interior reflects the transatlantic influence with a Soho meets Brooklyn vibe.
But in the upstairs bars and eating areas designer Gillian Anderson-Price has gone for a Notting Hill boho feel. What strikes me is the size of the joint and with DJs playing at the weekend I’m sure it turns into party central. All this unabashed hedonism is obviously a good thing but it can impact on a kitchen’s ability to deliver.
A glass of Alain Thienot Brut champagne (£11.50) was a delicious blend of floral and white fruit notes and came with some well sourced olives.
Crab trifle, avocado, rye toast (£9) was a whimsical delight-almost fluffy but packing a flavour punch with what must have been fresh crab and a properly ripened avocado. These things don’t happen by chance…the only issue with the dish was the toast which wasn’t the advertised rye but a decent sourdough.
White bean hummus, heritage carrots (£7) was indecently creamy and served with crisp flatbreads and crunchy carrots.
Home smoked wild salmon, sea purslane (£11) came with a light dressing which gave the salmon an unexpected oiliness but the fish had a good flavour.
Fiona moved on to a glass of Navaherreros, a full bodied Spanish grenache for her fillet steak (39 day 250g £30) which was a properly cooked piece of meat, tender with great flavour.
I was drinking a glass of Southern Italian Statua red from the Negroamore grape, full of spicy cherry tones, but light enough not to overpower my lobster, garlic and hazelnut butter, shoestring fries (£28). This dish was probably the most fun I have had with a lobster since a rather louche evening at Bob Bob Ricard. Great fries but why was the béarnaise sauce tepid?
The sides were really vegetarian mains and priced and portioned accordingly. Roasted cauliflower, pomegranate, hazelnut (£8.50) was crunchy and sweet with contrasting textures-a dish I might expect to see at Grain Store more than West Thirty Six.
Forest mushrooms, barley, dill crème fraiche (£8.50) was a great dish with the bite of the barley offset by the savoury softness of the mushrooms then sweetened by the dill crème fraiche.
Artichoke, broad beans, hazelnut, saffron (£8.50) felt more Provencal than anything else-it was grown-up food not screaming for attention but a stylish assemblage.
Crushed Banoffee (£9) was my guilty pleasure on a plate…I am so ashamed….
Apple pie (£9) was a well executed version of a classic-I was so full by this point that I had to force myself to try it-bear in mind that Fiona and I have been eating competitively since the late 1970s…
The quality of the cooking at West Thirty Six took me by surprise. I was expecting it to be at more of a ‘local brasserie’ level but the food is much more nuanced than it needs to be combining really well-executed classics with some less obvious explorations. Prices are at a West End level but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the wealthier locals for whom it provides a great weekday lunching/dining option with weekend partying and Sunday brunch also taken care of.