9 Kensington High Street, W8 5NP
Cuisine Type: Italian
The Spaghetti House chain of restaurant has been serving authentic Italian food to Londoners and visitors to the capital for some 58 years now. This family owned group of restaurants continues to flourish and grow; they’re absolutely doing something right. The latest addition to the Spaghetti House twelve strong empire is the Kensington High Street restaurant, sited opposite the Royal Garden Hotel and having opened a little over a year ago, it’s keeping good company with other restaurants in the area and holding its head up well. The restaurant looks quite modest from the outside, it’s not until you go inside that you see that it goes back some way and is actually a fair size. With soft grey painted wood panelling, fuchsia painted plasterwork and a wall of exposed brickwork, it’s fresh, yet there’s a hint of the rustic about it: there’s a great feel about this place. The seating is comfortable and everything comes together very well to create a great relaxed atmosphere.
We started our evening with a glass of prosecco and some Nocellara del Belice olives, probably the best olives I have tasted: they’re less salty than most, with a great texture and slight sweetness to them.
We decided to share a dish from the starter menu and one from the pasta menu as starters. The first of these – bocconcini di pollo – was a plateful of tender and juicy chicken strips which had been coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried giving them a nicely crunchy, crumbly shell. They were accompanied by a fresh, zingy arrabbiata sauce that had great tomato depth with some good chilli warmth, which developed nicely on the tongue. The spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncono was next up, a good sized bowl of thin and beautifully cooked spaghetti, perfectly al dente, leaving it with some good bite. It was dressed with slow-fried garlic, fresh chillies, parsley and extra virgin olive oil, giving this simple dish lovely flavour, subtly enhanced with a fresh grating of parmesan.
We chose individual mains. My saltimbocca di maiale was lovely, the pan-fried pork scaloppini were topped with parma ham and sage and its tasty combination was enhanced by a rich, meaty jus that had some anchovy coming through in its depth. It was served with pan-roasted courgettes, scattered with crushed roasted hazelnuts and some rosemary new potatoes, a good combination. Phillip’s pollo funghi e asparagi was lovely; the pan-fried chicken breast was both tender and juicy, and came with a great creamy porcini mushroom sauce with sliced asparagus in it and accompanied by rosemary new potatoes. We shared a side of broccoli all’aglio, tenderstem broccoli that had good texture and dressed nicely with a little chilli, some garlic & olive oil.
For desserts we had the tiramisu, the coffee and di saronno soaked Savoiardi fingers giving some nice challenging contrast to the rich creamy mascarpone based layers. The coppa di saronno double amaretto ice cream, with praline and a good shot of di Saronno liqueur, was a lighter but delicious dessert, having poured the liqueur over the ice cream the combination worked beautifully, a great adult decadence.
Starters at Spaghetti House restaurants are in the £4 to £8 range, pasta dishes are priced upwards from £8, mains are mostly around £12 to £16, and desserts come in at about £5. We accompanied our meal with the Sangiovese Terre Forti 2011, from Emilia Romagna which at a little over £17 a bottle is well priced. It’s a red with light to medium body and had lovely fresh summery red fruits dominating on the palate; it was perfect for the starters and main dishes we had chosen. We liked that all but one of the wines on the menu are available by the glass, the half litre or the bottle giving their customers maximum flexibility in the wines they would like to accompany their meal.
Service at Spaghetti House was excellent, the staff were attentive without being overly so. We enjoyed our meal at the High Street Kensington branch of this group of London restaurants. Their menus are well priced and packed with a good range of authentic Italian dishes. It’s well worth checking them out.