Saturday, 8 May 2010

Green Dining at The Park Terrace Restaurant, Kensington

This week Foodie In London was most excited to recieve an invite to the new Park Terrace Restaurant at The Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington.

The Park Terrace, What’s The Deal?: The Park Terrace has just re-opened at this classic London hotel that’s been around for so long that my mother remembers visiting the lobby to phone home (she’s American) when she was a student at the nearby Royal College of Art.

The towering 5-star hotel is also home to the swish Chinese restaurant Min Jiang which opened a couple of years back. One of the waiters gave us a quick tour of the top floor restaurant and the views of the city skyline really were spectacular. Note to self: book on NYE to see fireworks over the London Eye minus the crowds and cold.

Come on back down to the ground floor with me though as this my friends was the reason for mine and my dining companions visit (known affectionately as Mom).

The Park Terrace, The Food: This restaurant was in fact already called The Park Terrace but the dining room has been revamped where executive chef Steve Munkley is bringing a newfound dedication to local produce.

Local suppliers include Mrs Tee’s for wild mushrooms, venison sourced from the New Forest and smoked salmon comes from the John Ross Smokery in Scotland.

Even more local still is the cocktail list. Peering out of the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Kensington Gardens, with even a glimpse of the palace in the distance, we pored over a cocktail menu inspired by the adjacent royal park.

Alcoholic inventions include Elfin Oak (Château Damasse, Amaretto, Angostura, fresh mint and soda) – named after a painted 900 year-old tree stump in Kensington Gardens, Betwixt & Between (a Peter Pan creation of Absolut Citron, Passoa, Mandarin Napoleon, orange peel) – JM Barrie was said to be inspired by his strolls in the gardens, and Green Woodpecker (Mud House Sauvignon Blanc, Amaretto, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice). The waiter assured us that although he had not personally seen a green woodpecker (yet) they were known to nest in the gardens.

However my mother doesn’t drink and in a bid to be healthy for once and try to go for a novel 24 hours without booze, I joined her in a ‘mocktail’.

We had a Parkside Cooler (strawberry puree, peach juice, fresh mint, orange juice) and a Virgin Vanilla Mojito – (apple juice, fresh mint, lime juice, vanilla sugar and lemonade) which were both fruity and delicious but my Parkside Cooler was perhaps a bit filling to kick off a three-course meal.

After debating about whether it was wrong to have fish to start and more fish for a main course, I settled on rosemary and sherry marinated Shetland organic salmon with crème fraîche and oyster crisp to begin with, followed by a meaty main of loin of New Forest venison with celeriac purée, confit root vegetable terrine pink fur potatoes and port jus.

Throughout our meal we were served by the adorably charming manager Jorge Canela who was such a cutie, I find it hard to criticize even the slightest thing but here’s my honest opinion.

The starter was nicely presented and generous in size but I found something a bit too slimy about the salmon – perhaps the sherry infusion had this effect. I wasn’t a big fan of the thin slivers of cucumber that came with it either. Too fussy. Altogether a dish that just didn’t excite me much.

The venison was really good – beautifully gamey and flavorful and the ‘oh so rich’ port jus that accompanied it was fabulous. The celeriac puree complimented everything on the plate and the root vegetable terrine had a nice tough texture too.

By the time the dessert menu came round we were getting a bit full but we opted to share the white mozzo coffee tart with mascarpone cream and coffee crisp which Jorge said was his favourite. AMAZING! Really, this was one of the best desserts I have had in long time.

The tart filling was rich and creamy and punchy and filled the mouth with all sorts of lasting sweet sensations. Jorge revealed the secret of this gloriously sweet treat. There is white chocolate in the tart filling.

To finish we had coffee and some beautiful petit fours, which came served in an edible leaf-shaped biscuit.

Park Terrace, Toilet Watch: Grand, spacious and filled with marble and mirrors. Plenty of room to swing a cat.

The Park Terrace, The Final Word: A fancy hotel restaurant with adoring staff and a serene setting. Visit a) if you’re a tourist, b) if you love British produce, or c) if you’re in the area and looking for a tranquil spot for lunch. Let’s hope The Park Terrace lives on.

Park Terrace
Royal Garden Hotel
2-24 Kensington High Street
W8 4PT

Park Terrace on Urbanspoon

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