Kensington Wine Rooms

Notting Hill Gate has always seemed a bit dreary to me, somewhere to travel through rather than to. But having been to a show and ravenous for some sustenance, we searched out something quick and delicious. Having rejected a few dodgier looking restaurants, we wandered towards Kensington and found the wine rooms. Very smart looking, it was full of plenty of suited “businessman” and dressed up women seeking some high glass vino. They also had a decent looking food menu so we popped in to give it a go.

Iberico pork

I had the Iberico pork, served with greens, carrots and romesco. It came with a tinge of pink (the waiter had said medium rare) although actually I would have even had it a bit less. But it did have a fantastic smokey flavour, they must have some sort of grill. Carrots and greens were solid, but the standout part was the Romesco sauce. Smokey, nutty and rich, it was really delicious with the pork and brought it all together. Rather than browsing the very extensive menus, we went for the recommended pairings. Mine was a Le Soula Blanc, it was too sharp at first but rounded off nicely into a good match for the dish.

Rare tunaAnna opted for tuna, which came perfectly rare alongside potatoes, beans and salsa verde. Simple and classic, but nothing to fault about it. It was matched with a very interesting natural wine, cloudy orange in colour and initially tasting more of cider than wine. But again it opened up nicely and also proved a good match.

The food is simple but effective here, and along with the amazing wine selection makes a good choice for dinner. It was around £60 all in for two mains and two large glasses of wine, not particularly cheap I suppose but worth it for the wine experience.

 

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Beer Thoughts: Dominion Hop Mountain

Nice bottle capAnother night, another beer. Again bought from Kris Wines, this is an American pale ale at a punchy 6.3%. Originating from the Dominion Brewery in Deleware you might expect aggressive hops but in fact they are quite balanced. The pour is very flat and only slight fizz evident. Quite a dark brown, the sweet malty presence cuts though the hops and alcohol making it easy drinking.

Dominion Brewery, DE - Hop Mountain

I actually would prefer a touch less malt but I can see the balance they were aiming for. Very good and well brewed, just not a regular drinker for my tastes.

Beer thoughts: Five Points Pale

Five Points Cap

The London beer scene is not just thriving, it is absolutely exploding. It was very different a few years ago; a single digit contingency of large pubco breweries were left feeding the same beer to the usual pubs (although I have drunk my fair share of Pride, Special and Ordinary in my time). Now you can’t turn a corner in East London without tripping over a new mash tun being installed alongside a keen man in a beard and wellies explaining the IBU of his latest IPA. Which I’m all in favour of, the purists might say I lack tasting finesse but I love hops, almost the more the better.

Five Points Pale

There is however, a slight lack of good beer shops, although that is improving. No problem for me you understand, since I live within a quick cycle of Kris Wines , an amazing if dangerous place for an alephile. Which is the exact place I bought this rather delicious pale ale, Five Points Pale to be precise from the unsurprisingly named Five Points Brewing Co. This is my first beer from FPBC and it’s a winner. Despite its low 4.4% and slightly fizzy light start on the tongue, it packs some terrific bitterness from Amarillo, Centennial and Citra hops. Very balanced with dryness and a touch of citrus, I’ll be seeking out some more of their beers.

Dr.ink of Fulham

The fantastic Su-Lin (@sloLondon), who I met by chance at a whiskey tasting, invited us very kindly to try the new Supper Club at Dr.ink of Fulham. D.o.F. is a fantastic beer shop, located unsurprisingly in leafy Fulham, and I’d encourage you to check out their shop andtheir website. I only had a brief time to spend in the shop and saw lots of bottles I would love to buy (as well as a few I did!).

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The supper club is a very exciting concept (and novel to me), matching a total of 12 beers against Gujarati food cooked by the owner Shrila’s sisters. As if that wasn’t enough, each beer is introduced by Alex Barlow, renowned beer and flavours expert. Possibly the only time I allow myself a fizzy lager is with a curry, so seeing how an expert paired beers with it was going to be something special.

We arrived at the shop (after an arduous journey across London but I won’t bore you with that) and were led upstairs to Shrila’s house. There were about 12 people sitting around a large coffee table in the lounge, all looking anxious to start and pleased when we arrived. There was a menu describing the five courses and 12 beers we were going to sample, very exciting! I’ll run through each beer interspersed with some food descriptions.

Aperitif: Mort Subite Gueze

A nice start with a (wild yeast) Gueze. Very cider like with a strong sweet and sour taste. Aged hops reduce the bitterness to a subtle undernote with citrus and sweet coming through.

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Course 1: Dahi Puri served with Freedom Pilsner and Fruh Kolsch

Wow, what a course to start with. Imagine the most perfect rounded popadum filled with chick peas, spices and chutneys. Amazing!

Curry and lager, there would be no excuse not to pair the two at least once tonight. Freedom is more traditional in that the beer is stored for longer to develop flavours (lager is German for store). It has a touch of bitterness but is pretty light overall, acceptable at least.

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The Fruh Kolsch is lovely, sweet and light with a slight vegetal taste. Technically an ale because of the yeast used.

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Course 2: Paneer Samosas with Celis White and Saison

Paneer cheese stuffed into delicate spiced samosas with a tomato chutney. Brilliant, more please!

Celis is supposed to more accurately the original Hoegarden beer. For me at least, an overwhelming taste of Juicy Fruit bubblegum that I struggle to get past. Not unpleasant, lots of tropical and sweet flavours with a heavy texture. Wheat beers have lots of protein meaning a good match with cheese.

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The Saison is pretty herby and meaty, a tasty beer.

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Course 3: Ragdo Pattis with Kernel Citra IPA and William Brothers Ginger

The Ragdo Pattis was a delicious green pea patti topped with chick peas and a tomato salsa. Superb although the raita had a very unusual mustard flavour I had never tasted.

Kernel, certainly my brewer of the moment. Based near Borough market in South East London, they are producing fantastic flavour packed beers. The Citra is unsurprisingly heavily hopped with Citra hops. Loads of tropical fruit, mango, passionfruit and pineapple on the nose. Then a heavy lasting bitterness in taste, delicious.

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A “proper” ginger beer, quite light and sweet but with a nice balanced ginger kick.

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Course 4: Idli Sambal with Hopback Summer Lightning and Copper Dragon Challenger

A rice and flour dumpling served with lentil dal. Beautifully smooth dal contrasted with the unusual dumpling.

The Hopback has a light sweet smell, quite bitter and with a slightly “damp” finish. Quite a traditional English beer.

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Another great classically styled beers. Quite malty and heavy on Challenger hops. Not really an IPA in the usual sense though.

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Course 5: Coconut and Fennel Curry with Thornbridge Kipling and Schneider Aventinus

Delicious butternut squash and green bean curry with an initially mild but quickly growing spice. Served with cumin rice.

Kipling are producing some fantastic pale ales at the moment. This one had a smooth balanced taste but didn’t quite have the punch of some of their other offerings.

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The one beer I really can’t remember much about, clearly I’d had one too many by that point.

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Digestif: Harviestoun Ola Dubh Porter

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String whiskey and coffee in this long-aged (in whiskey barrels) beer. Perfect for the end of the night.

Conclusion

A fantastic night was definitely had by all, amazing food complemented by well matched and interesting beers. Even the supposed non-beer fans (including my wife, thanks for the photos by the way) seemed turned by the end.

Why not attend the next one, check out the dates here.