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.
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.
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.”
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 Golborne Road
London W10 5PS