Saturday 16 January 2010
Dylan Jones: 'The Next Big Thing usually consists of a bunch of indie kids from Oregon wearing lumberjack shirts'
I've become cynical whenever someone over the age of 30 starts championing the Next Big Thing, because the Next Big Thing usually turns out to consist of a bunch of wussy indie kids from Portland, Oregon, who all wear lumberjack shirts and Timberlands, and who play the sort of folkie-tinged music that has overweight music critics crying into their beer and their laptops.
"Oh, you'll love them," someone will say, someone who certainly doesn't know what I love. "They're a bit like Arcade Fire, a bit like the Fleet Foxes, with a bit of Smile-era Beach Boys."
"So, a bit like everyone else, then," I'll reply, to a look of blank incomprehension.
In some ways it's the same with restaurants, many of which are based on the crash-and-burn/year-zero policy of total post-modernisation: post-industrial interiors, counter-intuitive menus, and dreadful service. "It's very Modern British!" my friends will squeak.
Kitchen W8 in west London is anything but. Yes, some have made reference to the game consommé with bacon cream and a mini game hot-dog, as well as the grilled ox tongue with a foie gras baked potato – complaining that Kitchen W8 is just another complicated eatery. But I think it's the one of the most gloriously orthodox restaurants to open in London in ages. This is a joint venture between Philip Howard, chef-patron at The Square for 18 years, who holds two Michelin stars, and Rebecca Mascarenhas, who created Sonny's in Barnes in the Eighties. Mark Kempson, who worked with Howard at The Square, is head chef, and while the food is certainly of the same quality, the room is far more inviting, as are the staff. The decor reminds me a little of Le Caprice, and it all feels very King's Road late Seventies – inviting, sleek, v.v. smart.
Encouragingly, Howard and Mascarenhas say they want to create "a home from home", "a much-loved local" used by "by all and sundry ... on a regular basis". Personally, I think they've succeeded, and I can't think of any other restaurant I'd rather eat in at the moment.
Oh, and it's not expensive either. Very Modern British.
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'
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