The relaxed yet elegant ambience means that SW7 is a good option for all sorts of occasions from date night to family dinners.
In a Word
SW7 Brasserie, which sits quietly on Gloucester Road as part of the Kensington London Hotel, is calmly elegant on a Wednesday evening. Staff hover with a sense of attentiveness and anticipation which always seems to carry with newly opened restaurants that care about what they are doing. The space is open and bright; a pistachio colour scheme pleasantly neutral. Accents of emerald and brass give a sense of opulence further emphasised by the marble panelled bar – the focal point of the small dining area. William Morris wallpaper adds a whimsical touch, as do the plants which adorn a bookshelf carrying artistic, coffee table titles.
An extensive cocktail menu offers house twists on classic combinations. Our gin and elderflower concoction is refreshing, while a whiskey-based take on an Old Fashioned has a pleasing cinnamon warmth. Starters are divided into small plates and appetisers, from which we order two each. The pork crackling is a highlight, layered in stripes of brittle, shatteringly crisp skin and meat. Its moreish saltiness is perfectly tempered by apple sauce, tangy with a juicy bite.
A plush pillow of burrata also doesn’t last long, its wobbly shell dramatically splits into luscious, oozing panna; pure creaminess. The clean, milky flavour is emphasised by the other elements on the plate – a salty Kalamata tapenade, succulent tomato, sweet balsamic reduction and emerald drops of fresh basil gel. Tart pomegranates and earthy pine nuts add further textural variety, while blossoms of snapdragon are a nice presentational touch.
Next, come the langoustines, slight, quivering morsels of flesh sit in a half shell, gone in almost one bite. More tapenade gives depth but pistachios seem superfluous to the delicate meat.
A trio of mini steak and Guinness pies round of the first course, juicy, tender meat and pease encased in a buttery puff pastry – these are also well-executed with rich, herby flavour.
With a strong start, mains are disappointing – the Serrano-wrapped monkfish is far too salty, irredeemable by a pleasant enough buttery, peppery cress and potato mash. An accompaniment of insipid mushrooms, too, yield little flavour.
A rack of lamb is little better, overcooked but, at least arriving with an enjoyable enough potato gratin and reasonably flavoured jus – this more an issue with execution over recipe.
Banoffee Pie for dessert is decent – made to order – not too sweet, with a rich base, creamy banana and smooth caramel, it is a dish to round things off.
The many influences threading through SW7’s menu are mostly interesting but sometimes dishes are diluted in trying to do too much. Small plates are the strength here and are, for the most part, very enjoyable – working well as dishes to share between two. Taking into account the newness of the restaurant, it is hoped that mains will follow suit once certain teething issues can be ironed out.
Melia London Kensington Hotel
61 Gloucester Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 4PE