Parlour, Chef's Table review: Culture Whisper says ★★★★★
With rustic interiors and a menu that boasts modern twists on classic comfort food, Parlour in Kensal Rise is an exemplary gastropub. But it also hosts the best kept foodie secret in North West London.
Tucked away in a special booth with a view right into the kitchen, the Chef's Table dining experience transforms dinner into a culinary adventure as entertaining as any West End show.
This is more than just a feast. A generous stream of dishes (you'll quickly lose count) are prepared and served with panache by former Mall Tavern chef Jesse Dunford Wood. With no menu, there are surprises aplenty as Wood guides you through the subtleties and backstory of each dish.
Diners, be warned, you'll want to 'brace' and 'pace' yourselves for this torrent of food – while we heartily recommend the thrill of the Chef's Table, this warning can't be stressed enough – even the biggest appetites will be defeated.
When the first dishes are as tempting as honey-drizzled chestnut hummus with warm rosemary bread and smokey popcorn chicken (inspired by corn kernels and the KFC colonel) it's hard to hold back. It's impossible to heed the chef's advice to just 'try a bit of' the sumptuously thick slices of salmon (smoked out the back door of the kitchen) and oven-fresh soda bread.
The Milanese inspired raw vegetable ravioli with whipped goats cheese is so light and fresh there's no way you'll be able to stop at just a few mouthfuls.
But pace yourselves: each dish is an improvement on the last and the whole menu is riddled with charming little surprises. A tomato and basil salad is made next level by 'basil frogspawn' (basil seeds marinated in vinegar). What looks like a boiled egg actually contains 'stilton custard' – a decadently creamy, rich creation you're invited to devour with a 'marmite-less twiglet' dipper.
The Parlour's trademark main, a Cow Pie in homage to the Dandy's Desperate Dan, would make a vegetarian wince or waver. The meat is tender and the golden, beef infused crust is held up by bone, from which oozes parsley buttered breadcrumbs and bone marrow, and here, you might expect you've reached the pinnacle of the evening.
You'd be wrong. Once diners are well and truly sated with savoury offerings, Chef Jesse Dunford Wood presents his rapt audiences with headphones. We don't want to ruin the surprise, but what follows is a Willy Wonka-worthy extravaganza of culinary creativity and performance. Think music, smoke, fire and flourish as the entire tabletop is transformed into an incredible, edible world of pure imagination. Sweet dreams come true as gourmet classics including logan berry soufflé, blackberry posset and lemon tart are combined with innovative takes on retro treats like Wagon Wheels, arctic roll and rolos.
Though you're likely to leave feeling like Augustus Gloop, you'll no doubt be grinning as widely as Charlie when he finds his glorious golden ticket.
Practical: up to seven people, £55 a head, excluding drinks and service; to book, call 020 8969 2184 and ask for the Chef's Table.
|What||Chef's Table at Parlour, Kensal Green|
|Where||Parlour, 5 Regent Street, Kensal Green,, London,, NW10 5LG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Kensal Green (underground)|
01 Aug 15 – 30 Apr 19, Parlour is closed on Mondays
|Price||£55 a head|
|Website||Click here for more information and to book via Parlour|