The Mall Tavern, Notting Hill

  • DATE #51
  • Written by Emily Eaves (Guest Author)
  • 7 years ago
Mall Tavern London
More than a gastro pub

The Vibe

Notting Hill Gate has become a rather bland, typically commercialised high street. Yet spouting off it, there are some gems to be discovered; Portobello Road, Kensington Gardens, and Palace Gardens Terrace (or PGT as Mall Tavern quirkily refers to it on their menu). The Mall Tavern is everything that Notting Hill Gate is not – full of locals, excellent value, rustic and personal – and without a foreign tour group in sight.
The space is a bit of a rabbit warren – throw open the door and you’re enveloped in a large bar area which you walk through to reach the restaurant at the back. Pop to the loos (Ladies) and you’ll spy a secret patio garden, whilst the Gents trot up some stairs that lead to a private function room , complete with fireplace and hunting lodge vibe. Delve a little deeper and there’s the Kitchen Table where you can watch Chef Jesse Dunford Wood and his team prepare your meal. Staff beam at you, and you somehow find yourself planning your next visit before you’ve even sat down to eat.

The Order

The menu is diverse and everything is fresh, so fresh in fact that the salmon is smoked in the building across the road. The soda bread is homemade and it makes a nice backdrop to one of the spectacular starters, like the large glass trophy dish filled with hay that you root around in to find 8 mini pheasant eggs. Besides the egginess, this is a great talking point on a date. Guys, step up and chivalrously peel your girl an egg.
Mains are filling so be sure to pace yourself, difficult as it is when you have delights such as pork loin with poached apricot, or seabass with samphire to choose from. Something about this place makes a good bottle of red seem fitting, or there’s a selection of wines by the glass if your tastes don’t match with your date. Puddings are creative and go back to the old school – including an entire range of Arctic rolls. However, if you’re trying to be ladylike you can choose to take away the homemade rolo truffles and share them on your way home.

The Game

If you want to go all out here, go for the Kitchen Table – you’ll wow her instantly and conversation will be fuelled by a truly interactive dining experience. Otherwise, book into the main restaurant but request a corner table to ensure more romance, less casual pub. Organise to meet outside. If you get there first, let your date know to head towards the back as the layout of the space means that you can easily walk in and look lost. If it’s a nice evening, the Secret Garden is a must. Share your starters, have a main and enjoy the rolos for dessert. If you have an early dinner, suggest a stroll through Kensington Gardens together afterwards under the pretence that it’s easier to get home from Kensington High Street.

The Faults

The tables in the restaurant are fairly close together so there can be awkward squeezing into seats as well as distracting conversational eavesdropping. The food is hearty and wholesome so this isn’t a place for skinny scenesters.

Sex Factor

3. This place is cosy; unless you do the Kitchen Table, it’s not a first date venue. It’s the next step, think more 2 or 3 dates down the line when you like each other, want to sit for hours and hear what the other is saying, and you’re relaxed enough to really enjoy the food. To up the romance, add in the Secret Garden, the aforementioned stroll back to Kensington High Street or… just give her your last rolo.

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