Do! 108 Garage

Another West London must-do! I know the east has been neglected for awhile, but with so many new restaurants popping up in the west, it’s hard to venture elsewhere. 

The menu at London’s 108 Garage

Take 108 Garage, for example. The new kid on the block is not your typical family-friendly, low-key, Notting Hill eatery, instead, its bringing art and creativity with its fine culinary cuisine. That’s right, the neighborhood is growing up, so put on your  big girl shoes and head to the sexy scene that is 108 Garage.

Outfitted like a mechanic’s garage-turned restaurant, the unusual theme actually works. The mixed metals found in the ceiling piping, caged liquor cabinets, and hanging lights gave a little sparkle and warmth to the industrial space. The seating is close together, keeping the small restaurant cozy, and then taking the intimacy even further with an open kitchen. It’s always amazing to watch an executive chef in action–tidying and putting the finishing touches on dishes,  while summoning servers to whisk them away. The environment gets an A+, but the new 108 Garage is not without its growing pains.

Booking a table seems more difficult than it should be. We had to book a table for two very far in advance and eat pretty early to secure a Saturday night spot. This seemed completely unnecessary since there were only a few people in the place during our reservation spot. This, while frustrating would not have been a big deal if the servers did not make us feel like we were the only people in the place. Overbearing is an understatement when describing the waitstaff. We must have had five different servers constantly checking on us. Usually, in London, I’m continuously disappointed in the lack of attention from servers, but this other side of the spectrum was too much to handle. It got to the point that if I turned my head to look at the decor, someone would immediately come over and asked what I needed. I wished for a neck brace to control my neck so I could be left alone. 

Aside from not giving us breathing room, I have a few small grievances with the actual level of service. First, the food came WAY too fast. We were given our bread and within one bite our appetizer had arrived. The appetizer had a completely unnecessary bit of frozen basil which required immediate consumption, so it wasn’t even like we could push the dishes aside and enjoy our bread and a sip of our cocktails first. The actual dish I’ll get into in a little bit. So, whenever we were done with one of our rushed courses, the server (a different one each time) would clear the area by STACKING PLATES. One of my biggest pet peeves. The restaurant is not a diner, do not smush dirty dishes on top of each other in front of my face. This seems like a no-brainer for a high-end establishment but it’s amazing how many restaurants miss the mark on this one. 

After the plates are removed, one of the servers brings a new silverware setting. Both fork and knife are placed to my right each time. That bothers me too, but I guess by now you know I’m a little nitpicky. 

Lastly, in true London fashion, the 8 million servers disappeared once we were ready to go. We already made it clear we wanted the bill, and at that time our drinks and waters were empty. At that same time, the hostess told us our time was up and she needed the table. If the hostess had communicated with the server that knew we were ready to vacate (perhaps she was too busy on her cell phone, yup, in the dining room), we could have been swiftly removed before we could find out we were being evicted. Lack of communication and poor planning right there. 

Beautiful burrata at London’s 108 Garage

Now onto the actual food. It’s fantastic. It truly is. The price is right, the cocktails are inventive and refreshing, and the bread is fresh. Once you get on to the actual courses, you’re presented with pretty arrangements and bold flavors. I started with the burrata that was topped with dainty fresh strawberries. This was the dish that turned into a production when paired with the frozen basil. The server actually comes to your table, freezes the herb in liquid nitrogen and tells you to eat it really quickly before it gets soggy. This part is so contrived and seems like nothing more than justification for a impulse buy at the kitchenware depot. After that little hiccup, I had an AMAZING slow-cooked Iberico ham dish and followed that with the best little chocolate pudding for dessert. Literal pudding. Not England’s generic term for “dessert.” 

A hefty portion of flavor at West London’s 108 Garage

Beautiful and delicious at 108 Garage

They have a tasting menu and an a la carte menu which I do not understand, either. There are literally no differences between the items on the two, and since both parties would have to get the full tasting, it really doesn’t make sense. If something different and desirable was on the tasting menu, we may have gone for it, but for us it seemed truly pointless. I suggest putting some coveted meals on there if it’s the menu they really want to push.

So, aside from some minor details, 108 Garage ticks all the major boxes.  Friendly staff, nice decor, reasonable prices, and OUTSTANDING food. I will definitely be back to the Golborne Road hot spot. But first, it’s your turn. Enjoy!

108 Garage
108 Golborne Road
London W10 5PS

Do! Crazy Homies

Now, this one falls under that little invisible category called “Do, with a Disclaimer.” While I love Crazy Homies, it’s not the best Mexican in the area, and definitely could use a few improvements. But, I will be back because it’s tasty, eclectic, and in my neighborhood.

Another part of the Tom Conran’s restaurant group, Crazy Homies resides on Westbourne Park Road with its siblings Lucky Seven and The Cow. Tom’s little stake on that road feels a bit like his own section of a Monopoly board. You’re bound to land on one of his spaces for an easy dinner, a quick drink, or for a post-drinking cheesy feast, perhaps.

Conran’s restaurants do a couple things really well. The restaurants all have unique themes and the decor stylishly and accurately goes along with all of them. That and all of the food is pretty tasty. This is why they are all must-dos on the London Checklist. What happens, though, when you have success in major restaurant categories, is that other issues might fall through the cracks. This, in my opinion, is what has happened to Crazy Homies.

Inside Notting Hill’s Crazy Homies

I go there to sit upstairs. It’s a quirky bar/restaurant that reminds me of NYC and has Dia de Muertos vibes. I do not go there to sit downstairs. Downstairs it is dark, dingy, and smells bad. For this reason, reservations are a must. Even if seated at a colorful upstairs table, you may find yourself venturing down to use the restroom. That would be at your own risk. It is in major need of a face lift (and more space.) If memory serves me correctly, it barely has a working hand dryer and is carpeted(!). So, stick with upstairs and, hopefully, by the time you need the bathroom, you’re already too drunk on the Margaritas Calientes to care.

Some Crazy Homies goodness, London

Ah, the margaritas. My fav. That, some nachos and quesadilla action, and I’m a happy girl. Everything is pretty good. Definitely on the spicy side, so beware if that is not your thing. I have to point out that they charge wayyyy too much for a side of sour cream. Sour cream is a standard accompaniment to any Mexican dish in America, so it’s hard to wrap my head around being served the littlest portion or none at all. Especially for as spicy as Crazy Homies makes their food. So be prepared to shell out a couple pounds for something that should be a given. Lastly, in regards to the actual food, skip the churros. They’re the worst I’ve ever had. Always way too overcooked and greasy. You forget that they are actually made of dough. They don’t have much more in the way of desserts, but if you’re still feeling calorie-deficient, you can load up with another margarita.

Nacho time at Crazy Homies, London

The colors and flavors of Crazy Homies, London

Okay, here is my biggest gripe with Crazy Homies. The service. Despite being a Mexican place, which is usually the cheapest cuisine in town (in America, anyway) Crazy Homies is like any other restaurant in Notting Hill. You’re not getting out of there for less than £30-40 per person, so you should be able to expect some reasonable service. I have been in there countless times where I’ve had to beg for attention from a server for literally everything–the inevitable sides of sour cream, water, drink refills, even silverware once! But what really aggravates me is when the food comes too quickly. They’re better about this on slow nights, but, when they’re busy, they have zero control over their kitchen. There is no flow. Just food haphazardly flying out and about. Once, I dined at Crazy Homies with three other people. We made it very clear that the nachos and quesadillas were to start, and then each ordered an entree. The food came out in a reckless manner. Two entrees came, then the starters, then the rest of the entrees twenty minutes later. This was also another one of those times when we had no drinks and water. We were just stuck with half of our spicy food. Restaurants also lose money this way. I remember my cousin trying to find the waitress for another cocktail, but by the time she came around, it was basically time to go. That would have been an additional £10 for the restaurant and a higher tip for the waitress if everyone got their heads around the bigger picture.

I will say, it usually comes down to this one specific waitress. She never seems to recognize if a table is dissatisfied. Maybe its partially the language barrier, but I have to blame some of it on skills and training. When we tried to explain the rough go we were having with the empty drinks and the plates coming out in the wrong order, she was not apologetic. She stared at us blankly and said “We don’t do that here.” She was referring to giving you a starter as a starter and not just bringing everything out as its ready. This policy works for tapas places. Beyond that, let people have a pleasant, leisurely dining experience.

So, that’s how I feel about all that. Not to put a damper on a neighborhood “Do,” but I’m hopeful that if small adjustments are made, Crazy Homies will truly live up to its full restaurant potential. Head there and decide for yourself!


Churros to skip at Crazy Homies, London

Crazy Homies
125 Westbourne Park Road
London W2 5QL