The Shed in Notting Hill Gate, London: 122 Palace Gardens Terrace, Kensington, London W8 4RT
At least 20 years ago, The Ark Restaurant in Notting Hill Gate, next to the quirky Notting Hill Books, was one of the best places to eat out in this part of Kensington. It served traditional French food, cooked very satisfyingly. Then, it closed having served the community for many decades. Its shed-like premises were then taken over by the chef Jean Christophe Novelli, who established, what I thought was a pretentious and rather chi-chi restaurant. It was not a great replacement for what had closed down.
Novelli's place closed down, and was replaced by something unmemorable and pricey. That closed down, and then the old Ark's premises were taken over by the present restaurant, The Shed, which is aptly named given the architectural nature of its premises. Sadly, Notting Hill Books has long since closed.
The Shed offers food and wine, mostly sourced from the owners' farm in Sussex.
Diners are encouraged to share the small plates of food that are on offer, and to order quite a few so that the meal becomes a gustatory adventure trail.
We began with plates containing four tiny bite-sized starter items, which included a small piece of pastry containing the most delicious 'mushroom marmite'. Also on the plate, there were tiny but tasty portions of chicken liver parfait and smoked mackerel paté.
Then, one dish followed another, timed beautifully so that just as one plate emptied another arrived.
Gin-cured trout was exquisite, reminiscent of the best sashimi.
This was followed by 'roast beef carpaccio' that was accompanied by mild horseradish, which The Shed called 'marshmallow horseradish'. This was all very nice, but I do prefer the classic beef carpaccio with raw beef.
After we had eaten this, we were treated to wonderful squid ink papardelle flavoured with white crab meat and chilli (mild). Agan, this was tasty. Next, there followed what looked quite odd: roundels of pan-fried goat's cheese topped with almonds coated in sweet syrup. This was a good combination.
We also tried roast pork served with a variety of things including quinoa and various different salsas. The pieces of pork were small and served cold.
The last dish we received was 'lamb chips' in a harissa sauce. The 'chips' consisted of soft shredded lamb compressed to look like fish-fingers. The harissa sauce was rather sweet. I would not order that dish again.
The desserts were small but very tasty, and like the rest of the dishes were highly original in concept.
Our seating was uncomfortable - we were sat at a table consiting of an oil drum with a wooden table top, and the restaurant was both crowded and extremely noisy.
Nevertheless, the service we received was faultless, and the food of a high quality: well-prepared and interesting.
I was worried that 'small plates' would mean that I would feel hungry at the end of the meal, but I was not. I left The Shed feeling satisfied.
When I next visit The Shed - and I hope that will be soon - I will try to reserve at a quiet time (?lunch), and will ask for a table that has leg-room beneath it.
Oh yes, you will want to know about prices. Reasonable if you go very easy on the alcohol! Otherwise, could get pricey.