Just what sort of Place is this Kensington? (2): Matthew Symonds loathes it. The chairs, the service, everything

Offhand, I can't think of any restaurant in London I dislike more than Kensington Place. Of course, one has been to worse restaurants in the sense that the food was really dreadful. But these rarely last for more than a few months so the chances of going twice are pretty slight. What one means about Kensington Place is that it is a ghastly successful restaurant and that its very success contributes to its ghastliness.

To be fair, I have managed to avoid going there for nearly four years (a certain firmness is required - if a friend suggests Kensington Place for lunch there is nothing for it other than a polite 'no thanks'). It may have changed. But somehow I very much doubt it.

So why do I loathe the place? Let's start with the cooking. It's not bad, but it has no soul. The dishes have that eclectic feel that typifies the drearier sort of New York brasserie. The basis is French, but there are cues from elsewhere, especially that species of 'San Francisco Italian' which has become the standby of every fashionable restaurant and brasserie in London. There always seemed to be salads with silly names and slices of fruit. Also the portions struck me as mean. I suppose it's fine for that miserable thing, the light lunch, but it fatally lacks seriousness.

The food is easily the best thing about Kensington Place. The fresh-faced and energetic girls and boys who take your order can describe the food, but don't seem to know anything about it. The chairs are actually designed to be uncomfortable, so that even if everything else were perfect it would be impossible to relax over a meal. Worst of all, the large ground floor room has no ability to absorb noise. If all you want to do is spot celebs that may not matter, but anyone wanting to talk and listen to friends is going to be disappointed, especially late in the evening when the noise level becomes intolerable.

What finally convinced me that KP was too popular for its own good was its cavalier approach to reservations. On two occasions I accompanied friends who had made bookings earlier in the evening only to be told, without apology, that we would have to wait anything between half an hour and an hour in a cramped, rowdy and unattractively lit bar. I don't know whether it was deliberate double-booking or just carelessness. My friends were furious; for me it was two lucky escapes in a row.

Kensington Place, 201 Kensington Church Street, London W8 (071-727 3184).

(Photograph omitted)

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower