I found this restaurant by way of watching a bit too many episodes of The Great British Menu over the course of 2013 and 2014. On the show, there was a particular chef I really rooted for, Adam Simmonds. He appeared to be the scruffy upstart with a bag of surprises when compared to the more polished, gelled-hair competitors, but some quick research dispelled that notion. Simmonds became the head chef of Pavilion during that 13-14 TV run, but had earned his first Michelin star way back in 2006.
This first star was earned while working at Ynyshir Hall in Wales. Simmonds replicated this feat while establishing ‘Adam Simmonds at Danesfield House’ in Buckinghamshire. At Danesfield house, Simmonds received a Michelin star and four AA rosettes. He then came to the open kitchen of Pavilion so that diners can watch him interact with staff and run the dinner service on almost any given night of the week. It was during this stint that I booked a birthday dinner at Pavilion and got to see him work.
The Kensington Pavilion is actually a 6-floor private members club. It’s perfectly at home in the borough of Kensington & Chelsea where the monied seek out exclusive refuges from the bustling London streets. The restaurant unfortunately is currently closed while they seek a new head chef – Simmonds had always been open about moving to start his own restaurant after a year or so and it seems that he has now moved on. According to their website, the restaurant is currently closed, following Simmonds’ departure, but soon will turn into a branch of The Ivy (of Covent Garden fame) – coming in December 2015 called The Ivy Kensington Brasserie.
I went to the Pavilion for my birthday and ordered the ribeye with bone marrow mouse. All the Pavilion’s cuts of meat are served with beer-pickled onions, salad and beef-dripping chips. The mouse is served alongside in a sectioned piece of bone – appropriate. The steak was juicy, though a little overcooked for my definition of medium. Ribeye’s are my favorite blend of flavor, consistency and fat and are really at their peak around a ‘medium’ with a good amount of pink throughout. Undercook it and you won’t allow the fat to melt into the beef properly – overcook it at may you be condemned to a fiery end!
The ribeye was flavorful and juicy and the chips were unreal. You get four perfectly squared and stacked chips with just the right amount of beef drippings over them to offset the salad and onions. The meat has been dry-aged in the Pavilion’s locker – you can see it against the back wall of the restaurant with all their delicious cuts on show as they age to perfection.
I don’t say this lightly, but if anything, the bone marrow was too rich for my taste. It overpowered with rich, velvety texture to the point that I didn’t actually use it all with my steak. I guess I should be complimenting chef Simmonds on the rich-osity of that marrow!
The ribeye was £24.50 and the cuts range up to the fillet at £34.50. Bérnaise sauce will set you back another £1.50, but is well worth it. Overall, I’d say this ribeye was the perfect cut and quality for the price. The starters that we tried were excellent – priced between £8 and £14, there was something for everyone on the list of appetizers.
To the right you’ll see the Salmon and Tuna starters. Both were excellent and not overly filling, but not underwhelming and miniature like many a michelin-starred starter tend to be. The salmon was thinly sliced and served with a mouse that was light yet flavorful. The tuna was perfectly seared and the accompanying veggies provided some really interesting combinations of flavors and contrasting textures.
Overall, I’m excited to return once The Ivy Kensington Brasserie opens to see what it’s all about. Even with Simmonds departure, I’m keen to see how the pedigree of The Ivy is captured in a brasserie concept and in the light and airy space that the Pavilion occupied – directly at odds with the old-man’s closed feel that the original Ivy encompasses.
Where The Ivy in Covent Garden has dark stained glass and smoked windows, The Pavilion has large, clear panes of glass facing out on to the high street, is brightly lit and feels open and airy. I hope to see more of a focus on the beef with the new Ivy menu. Of course. Time will tell if it’s the right thing for the Kensington Pavilion to do. In the meantime, I have fond memories of the excellent birthday meal I enjoyed under Adam Simmonds direction.