Parlour, London – Restaurant Review
by Jen Grimble
London is so densely populated by chain restaurants and mediocre eateries, that striking gold can be as tricky as reserving a table at the Chiltern Firehouse. Yet once in a while a gem emerges, slyly serving extraordinary food. Parlour, situated on an almost invisible side street in Kensal Green, is one such place. Owner and Chef Jesse Dunford Wood knew that the food had to compensate for the secluded location. Entirely successfully, this bar-come-restaurant vies for the custom of foodies, with its unpretentiously confident gastronomy.
Like the menu, the interior of Parlour is eclectic, caught somewhere between country pub, elegant city restaurant and rustic Italian ristorante; picture coal-burning fires, marble-topped tables and leather seating. Upon arrival you know you will stay put all evening.
As we take our seats in a candlelit corner pocket, the wine arrives; Domaine de Montaubéron Las Oliviers. This classic French rosé is priced at £23 a bottle and offers a dry, fruity finish. If this doesn’t appeal, the bar carries every beverage imaginable, including a “Beeropedia” of local craft ales. Any-time cocktails also make a statement, blending British spirits with Heston Blumenthal-esque whimsy. The Odeon Old Fashioned, for example, boasts Popcorn infused Bourbon and Butterscotch Syrup. Starting from £8, these strong delights are bold and grown-up, making the Cosmopolitan seem like a thing of the very out-dated past.
When it comes to food, the evening menu offers traditional pub fare with a few curveballs. One thing that is abundantly clear is the pride the staff takes in the food they serve.
Then you begin to see why: £6.50 gets you an art-installation of Chestnut Hummus, dip-heaven garnished with caramelised onions and a sherry reduction. Served with warm Rosemary Pitta Bread, this rich dish is a faultless opener. For the carnivores, Parlour’s signature McTucky’s Popcorn Chicken Nuggets are crisp and succulent at £6 a portion. Accompanied by real popcorn pieces and a zingy paprika mayonnaise, this is a joyful crowd-pleaser.
The menu complements its starters with six thoughtfully chosen mains, from light fish dishes to robust pork chops. Parlour’s famous Chicken Kyiv, priced at £15, is an impressive sphere of tender chicken, coated in crispy breadcrumbs. Imagine a large scotch egg, only with a rich, oozing garlic butter inside. Hitting all the senses, this playful plate is served with Coleslaw and homemade Hash Brown. Yes, it tastes as good as it sounds. Cow Pie is the second signature; £15 gets you melt-in-the-mouth beef, thick ale gravy and a lid of golden pastry. One of the best pies you will ever eat, this is traditional English food at its very best. Vegetarians need not feel ignored, because Parlour offers a selection of imaginative meat-free dishes, such as the Raw Vegetable ‘Ravioli’ with Goats’ Cheese, from £7 a portion.
The dessert menu is perhaps Parlour’s most mouth-watering selection. We opt for two decadent options. The first is Toasted Marshmallow Wagon Wheel, a heavenly take on the classic school-time treat. Crunchy chocolate biscuits smothered in melted chocolate and topped with toasted marshmallows. For £5.50, this dessert satisfies the taste buds, and the inner child. The second indulgence is Lemon Meringue Pie, a dainty, zingy tart with a Crème Brûlée top. Served with mini meringues, fresh blueberries and micro basil, this pudding is as sophisticated as it gets. For a lighter option the Naïve Chocolate Salted Caramel Rolos are tantalisingly tasty for only £4.
This trendy eaterie doesn’t feel threatening or family-unfriendly, it is just a place determined to serve food at its very best. Seasonal and current, Parlour prominently stands out from many of its competitors, because this bar has a proud foodie-ego.
Open 10am – Midnight, Tuesday – Sunday
5 Regent Street, London, NW10 5LG