The Mall Tavern, in Notting Hill, is owned by The Perritt Brothers, who also own The Regent and The Stag.
When I first moved to London, I lived near Holland Park. It was the most beautiful 3 month, which introduced me to the city in the most gentle and dignified manner possible. Mature trees in the streets, Georgian homes, and a Porsche Cayenne on every corner. It’s how I imagined all of London to be.
Of course, we all wake up to reality eventually, but I still love to walk around the streets between High Street Kensington and Notting Hill on the occasional Sunday. There is a beautiful street which joins the two, Kensington Church Street, and just off from it at the Notting Hill Gate end is the Mall Tavern.
It’s the kind of place you have to know is there, positioned as it is, just out of sight around a corner – but know it people do. My brother had already been for work drinks, and word of mouth spoke of many glowing reviews of the food. From the moment we arrived for the all-day Sunday brunch at 1pm, people kept arriving until the place was completely full. The two seater table next to us even had to squeeze an extra chair around it to fit in one extra diner.
The atmosphere is certainly appealing. In the same way as the surrounding areas represent, to me at least, an idealised version of London, this is a tavern as which could only be imagined in this small pocket of West London. A giant Christmas tree, tastefully decorated, and cosy yet clutter-free decor featuring lots of exposed brick and rough wood. The crowd ranges from Made in Chelsea extras at the younger end of the spectrum, to characters you may have missed from Notting Hill at the other.
Starters ranged from £5 to £8 and included a tempting mushroom and chestnut pate, along with a venison pork pie. We selected a Beetroot, goats cheese and hazelnut salad (£6.50) which featured a delicious dollop of whipped cheese and was displayed beautifully in a pleasing riot of colour. We also chose the Chicken liver pate (£6.50) which was absolutely divine, and came with gorgeous crunchy mini toasts. The ‘pickled onions’ on the side were more akin to deep fried onion rings, and added a touch of sweetness despite being a little heavy.
It was a real challenge to select a main course, as the Macaroni cheese with bacon (£9.50), Cow pie (£14.50) and Smoked salmon fishcakes (£13) all looked wonderful. In the end we tried their signature Roast beef (£15) which was served with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy. On the day we went we had the option of roast beef, chicken breast or wild duck. There was also an option of a salt baked Goosnargh chicken (£30 – for two people). This was definitely a big enough dish to share, as we had observed by peeking at the table next to us. Both pink and lean, the meat was just how I like it – cooked to allow you to get the full flavour of the flesh without any gristle or fat. The potatoes were also just right, not overcooked as can sometimes be the case.
We also ordered the Grilled Cornish Cunard (£14) which came with steamed spinach. This was a much lighter option, but lacked nothing in terms of flavour. The hollandaise sauce was a pleasant addition, and reminded me that a little richness can go a long way with such a delicate dish.
Only dessert was a slight letdown, as the Arctic Roll Selection (£6.50 for 3) was unpleasant in both taste and texture. Our waiter had described the ‘Montecristo’ option of ice cream roll as ‘like a cigar’, but I didn’t actually expect it to taste as if ground tobacco had been mixed into it. The buttermilk pudding with quince & honey (£4.50) tasted almost like a panacotta, but lacked something which made it as pleasurable an experience to eat.
Other desserts on offer included malted chocolate mousse with salted peanut brittle (£6.50) and Salted caramel rolos (£3.50) which seemed intriguing, and I would probably opt for one of them when making a return visit. The after dinner coffees were well made and displayed.
The Mall Tavern certainly seems to be doing something right, as it was absolutely packed for the duration of our visit. Their formula of preparing classic food very well obviously works. I am very glad to have found a place to visit for Sunday brunch when I got for my weekend walks to Kensington – even I may have to fight for a table, in a very undignified manner.
For more information and to make a booking, visit: http://www.themalltavern.com