Don’t! The Mitre

This one is an absolute DON’T, which is such a shame. The Mitre is in an easy location, large enough to accommodate big groups, and even has outside space. It would be a fantastic go-to if it had redeeming qualities beyond the building.

Holland Park’s The Mitre

Everyone knows The Mitre is horrible. I was warned not to try it by four different people in completely separate social circles. I still had to, of course. What kind of restaurant reviewer would I be if I didn’t aim to check every London spot off my own blog-purposed checklist?

So, on a weekend night we went, and just as all the hopefuls before me, I gave it a fair shot, but it turned out to be a true disappointment.

Ah, where to start. I guess we didn’t get off on the right foot from the beginning. We had a reservation, but it took almost twenty minutes to seat us. One of our friends had a baby with them, so you would think they would try to speed things along for the sake of the child. Nope. We had to remind the staff we were waiting multiple times.

Once seated, we were faced with an extremely high-priced menu for English pub fare. This restaurant was not nice enough for prices like these. A £30 steak at a basic pub had to be fantastic (right?), so three of us took the challenge to find out. The rest of the dishes also sounded appealing, so we opted for an assortment of apps and entrees, including some oysters to start. 

Let me start with the oysters. One of them was bad. Not just bad. Rancid. The smell coming of the plate was putrid. For the cook or server not to notice this is downright criminal. The worst part, when we let the server know, he just took the single, bad oyster off the plate, with his bare hands and carried it away. So tacky. Again, prices too high for tacky service and spoiled food.

After that we actually enjoyed some ox cheek mac n’ cheese before being thoroughly disappointed in our meals. 

Our six entrees came to us ICE-COLD. And we waited a longggg time for those entrees. They must have been sitting on the line, far from a heat lamp for way too long. It was disgusting. This was a roast, three steaks, and a couple of fish & chips. So disappointing. And, since we try to be good people, and the idea of wasting all that food seemed horrible (and waiting forever to remake it sounded just as bad) we sucked it up and ate our cold, dry, sad meals. 

Dinner at London’s The Mitre

The Mitre’s Fish & Chips, London

The management did take our complaints seriously, I have to say. Well, they weren’t all that apologetic, but they did heavily discount the bill and offer us dessert. They made it right, but, unfortunately, nothing was good enough to warrant a return visit. 

After the meal, the incompetent server had us reviewing an outdated dessert menu, so when we ordered, everything was from the previous week and we had to then do the whole song and dance over again. When the desserts finally came, I had to get up myself to get silverware for the table, and then again to find someone to give us or check.

If I had to pick one word to describe the experience, it would be painful. Horrible service, rookie mistakes, cold and overpriced meals. It pains me just to think back on it all. And, to top it all off, I was recounting this experience to a friend and she told me a SHOCKING Mitre story. This place never ceases to amaze and disappoint. My friend was given £100.00 gift certificate as a gift (from an out-of-towner that had no idea being sentenced to The Mitre was no gift at all). When she tried to use a portion, The Mitre DEMANDED it was to be used all in one go. How in the world is a girl supposed to spend £100.00 in one sitting by herself? Is she forced to use her gift on other people. Their prices are high but not £100.00 per person high unless you order the shitty steak, an appetizer, sides, dessert and drink a lot. Still, I’ve never heard of a restaurant doing this to a patron. PATHETIC!

In conclusion, I went to The Mitre after hearing horrible reviews, but I had to see (and review) for myself. Do not make the same mistake I did. Trust pretty much everyone in West London and avoid this horrible place. 
The Mitre
40 Holland Park Avenue
London W11 3QY

Don’t! Farmacy

Westbourne Grove’s Farmacy is one of the latest hot spots to arrive in Notting Hill. While the concept is great (and much needed), the all natural eatery missed the mark in too many areas that I do not see myself heading back for a second visit.

Farmacy is part of the clean-eating train that is making its way through London, which, honestly, is long overdue. I find it SO HARD to eat continuously healthy in a city that believes in day-drinking, minimal exercise, and puddings after each meal. To have more options for vegan/vegetarian, chemical-free, and refined sugar-free eating is a huge positive, but, unfortunately, a lot of these concepts come along with a heavy price tag and are considered “on trend.” Farmacy is the definition of this problem.

Dog friendly at Westbourne Grove’s Farmacy
First, they do not take reservations, which is just annoying. It’s bad enough that Granger (down the street) has a forever queue we all suffer through, but, to make Westbourne Grove queuing “a thing” is really unnecessary. Once inside, however, the place is quite spacious and very pretty. It feels very clean and botanical. Almost like a relaxed version of a fancy hotel’s Palm Court. The restaurant is animal friendly which is always nice to see. But, this is where the positives switch to negatives…
After the relief of getting inside and into a table, and taking in the refreshing decor, you immediately run into the first problem with Farmacy. The service. It is beyond slow at certain points, and extremely rushed at others. It took an eternity for someone to come over, greet our table, bring us water, and ask us about drinks or questions. Once we had placed our coffee order, the server came back and hurried us for a food order almost immediately, and then a few seconds later after we asked for more time. Once the food arrived, no one ever checked back on us, and at the end of the meal, I had to physically get up to get the bill after being neglected for about 20 minutes.  I was especially surprised by this ending since we wanted to leave, and they had guests waiting to be seated. The staff is not properly trained, there is not an even flow to the dining experience, and there must be a serious lack of management to not be able to float around the dining room and recognize such problems and distressed faces on customers.

Onto the food. My friend and I both opted for the House Pancakes–buckwheat pancakes, with coconut yogurt, and fresh fruit. This is a very common dish served at a lot of clean-eating establishments, but I have to say, Farmacy’s version was the worst. Primarily because it was ice cold. There is nothing appropriate about cold pancakes. Maybe that is an English vs. American thing, I don’t know, but neither my English friend or American me enjoyed our breakfast. The staff wouldn’t know how we were feeling because they never bothered to check back on us. Had they, we may have been able to get something we could enjoy, or tell them they brought our table the incorrect “Farmacuetical Syringe Shot.” My girlfriend ordered the Beautify shot, and was brought the Fire Starter incorrectly. After waiting awhile for a server to walk by, to no avail, she just drank the one she had received. And, boy, was that a production. These shots actually come in a medical syringe, on a plate, next to a shot glass. It is silly and contrived–completely lame, in my opinion. I guess this place is trying way too hard to justify its high prices and poor service.

A buckwheat breakfast at London’s Farmacy

After finally finishing our mediocre meals and the incorrect shot and hunting down a server to close our tab, we walked out of there feeling liberated to be away from their dining room.  That is not the feeling you want to give to your patrons upon exiting your new neighborhood restaurant.

So, Farmacy, please get it together. We could all stand to be a little healthier, and in theory, restaurants like you are just what the doctor ordered…

A Syringe Shot at London’s Farmacy

74 Westbourne Grove
London W2 5SH

Don’t! West Thirty Six

Don’t. Do not. Do not under any circumstance get roped in to going to West Thirty Six.  After numerous bad meals, I kept getting sucked back in to such a poor establishment due to birthday parties, a few “it’s been awhiles” and “maybe it’s changed,” and some “it’s way better now, I swear” from different acquaintances. It’s not better. It’s never better. A restaurant with horrible ventilation, stock issues, inedible food, and awful ventilation, lighting and prices, has earned nothing more than this review.

So, here we go. Now most of my “don’ts” were one or two time experiences, but not West Thirty Six. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve been there at least 15 times. Not because I’m a masochist, but at one time they had one good dish that was reasonably priced and worth ignoring how basically every other part of the establishment was crumbling around me, and it’s close. 

But, let me start with the actual building. I love the look of the downstairs. It has a pretty bar and a warm yellow-green glow.  The problem with the downstairs, however, is that you can’t actually sit down there and breathe. The ventilation is so poor that one steak left on the grill is enough to smoke out the entire floor leaving throats dry, eyes burning, patrons coughing, and hair and clothing smelling like a 4th of July campfire. It’s disgusting. 

Dining in the dark at West Thirty Six, London

If you try to dine a floor up, be prepared for West Thirty Six’s take on “Dining in the Dark.” I felt much older than my age when I could not read a menu or cut my food well in the darkness of their upper level. About an hour into our meal, the staff decided to turn the lights on, which did not really rectify the lighting situation, but actually made it worse, shining one ceiling spotlight right in my face. It was like a dark auditorium and I was beginning a performance. So, no matter what level you are on, the place is a fail. Not to mention very quiet…

Word must be spreading about the terrible experiences being had at West Thirty Six because every time I’m in there the turnout is more and more depressing. We were the only table upstairs in the dark for a good hour, and the time before that, even though OpenTable showed the restaurant as 99% full, we were one of two tables our entire evening downstairs! They are selectively releasing seats to look much more exclusive than they actually are. It’s really such a shame because the location is easy and the place has the looks and potential of being a cool go-to. But nope. I also have to note that West Thirty Six marked my last OpenTable reservation as me being a no-show and I had to contact the website because that was certainly not the case. Just another little West Thirty Six annoyance.

Notting Hill’s West Thirty Six menu, a definite Don’t

So, how ’bout the food? Well, it’s just gross. At one time they had a delicious pulled pork sandwich that threw some rose-colored glasses on me, but once they took that off the menu (over a year ago), nothing has hit the spot. My entire party was dissatisfied last visit, trying a mix of chicken wings, beef tartare, ribs, chips, mixed greens, and a steak. Everything was either too bland, tough, or chewy. Ribs should fall of the bone and melt into a delicious barbecue sauce. These were stiff and dry, clinging to the bone with dear life. A huge disappointment. 

Disappointing ribs at London’s West Thirty Six

And, the menu was very incomplete. The restaurant was out of the first five drink and food items we tried to order. I wondered if it was all in preparation to officially close their doors, but no, just another hint of a poorly managed establishment. The server also waited until we decided on and ordered each item before letting us know what was missing, which is also annoying. But, it fits the theme of the place I guess.

Poor service, lighting, ventilation, and food. If that’s your idea of a good time, head to West Thirty Six on London’s Golborne Road. If not, head to any other restaurant in West London!!!

West Thirty Six
36 Golborne Road
London, W105PR

Don’t! The Mall Tavern

The Mall Tavern is a pretty happening spot. The Notting Hill corner pub is always booming and has a pretty loyal following. Many friends had told me about their local pub, so I went for dinner to see for myself, but honestly, I didn’t get what all the fuss was about. The food was mediocre and the menu didn’t even have a lot to get excited about, and the space itself was too dark, too loud, too average. The only bright light was the service, in my opinion. Friendly and accommodating, the staff was good, just not great enough to make it all worth it.

The building itself on the outside is pretty cool. It wraps with a sharply curved one-way street. The somewhat hidden area has an old English vibe, which is a nice change from the busy area of Notting Hill Gate, just one street away. Inside, however, I feel the pub has a bit of an identity crisis. Half pub–minimalist with a walk up bar, pushed together bare tables, cozy eats and casual fare–and half hipster joint with unfinished walls, subway tiles, and bathrooms so dark you don’t know if the bathroom stall itself is a club.  The menu tried to be colorful and quirky, like an adult comic book, but I just kept rereading it not really soaking anything in. This was probably because nothing jumped out at me. The one item we all wanted to order, the ribs, was no longer available that evening, so we ordered some basics and hoped for the best.

One friend said the place used to be really good until they “Americanized” the menu. I had no idea what he was referring to because nothing jumped out at me as American, but I looked again at the wings, artichoke dip, mac & cheese offerings and tried to see his point. Once the meals actually came, I decided there was nothing American about the dishes.

A cold artichoke dip at The Mall Tavern, London

I started with the artichoke dip and ordered the burger.  I was so disappointed with the artichoke dip, perhaps because I was hoping it would be American-style like my Irish friend had claimed. It wasn’t. Mainly because it was served cold. Not hot, creamy, cheesy and gooey. Just cold and really salty. The mac & cheese was a much better starter so I spent half the time eating my husband’s dish instead. The wings were very unusual. Not my style, a little too soggy, tossed in an all over blue cheese sauce. I prefer a traditional spicy, crispy wing with a nice dip. But they were still tasty. 

An appetizer at London’s Mall Tavern

The burger for my entree was just so-so, but I find that’s London burgers in general. So, after finishing our apps and entrees and starting to understand what my friend meant my missing the mark on American food, we decided to give the place a chance to redeem itself and ordered dessert.

I tried to bring it back to Britain with the sticky toffee pudding and another friend got the “Rolos.” Sticky toffee pudding is amazing and there are plenty of great versions around London. The Mall Tavern, however, does not have one of them. Their take on the classic is a little too spiced and a little too dry. Despite being coated in the sauce, the inside was too dry to be able to mix well when eating. The “Rolos” were just bizarre. Absolutely nothing in common with a Rolo other than the ingredients of chocolate and caramel. Totally different flavors, textures, and consistencies. That one was a misrepresentation and we were all kind of disappointed. 

Sticky Toffee Pudding at The Mall Tavern, London

At the end of the night, I took stock of my friend’s experiences. None of us had an outstanding meal, or were all that impressed with our surroundings. It was hard to hear each other in the loud, echoing room, despite how closely we were huddled together. And the desserts totally fell flat. Again, we all thought the servers were nice dudes, but that cannot carry a whole establishment. For this, The Mall Tavern is an unfortunate Don’t.

The Mall Tavern
71-73 Palace Gardens Terrace
London W8 4RU

Don’t! Tuk Tuk Stick n’ Grill

Poor brand new Tuk Tuk! A simple place with a cute little name surely has a place on Portobello Road, no? Well, unfortunately, no. My husband and I tried the brand new satay place this weekend because it seemed easy and perfect for just what we needed. We needed a quick afternoon snack that also fit with my husband’s sometimes low-carb lifestyle. We slipped inside for what turned out to be an average experience with mediocre food.

Waiting at the Tuk Tuk counter, London

The idea is great. Satays are for everyone when you have choices of steak, shrimp, tofu and vegetables, and many different dips to choose from. That was the gist of the simple, mix-and-match menu. There were some rice, salad, seasoning, dessert, and drink choices, too, but really Tuk Tuk kept in nice and simple. 

Unfortunately, right when you walk into the place you’re confused. There’s a counter on the left and a place to order on the right, then additional seating downstairs. The menu takes a minute to read through and then you’re not sure where to stand or wait. You’re basically on top of people eating at the counter as you wait for your food, before you can retreat to additional seating. 

There just isn’t a real flow to the place. It’s a long hallway with a ton of congestion at the front, and then just dead space in the back. I would have people order and take a number to their seating area (Nando’s style), to prevent the awkward waiting period, then bring the food to them. After the meal you’re not really sure what to do with your tray. My husband fumbled around and eventually figured out their disposal area. (Which is also in the main congestion area.) 

The ordering station at Tuk Tuk Stick n’ Grill, London

So, aside from the lack of flow and the uncomfortable design, the food is not very good. The rice was fine, but the satays weren’t all that flavorful. We chose the Oriental Herb seasoning which didn’t taste all that strong on our Tuk n’ Try platter, which included shrimp, veggies and chicken. It was a decent amount of food for only £13.00, but I guess you get what you pay for. Aside from lacking flavor, I thought the chicken lacked cooking! In between the chicken pieces was a questionable pink color that made me uncomfortable. I let my husband eat those and I stuck to the veggies. The veggies and the rice. The sauces also fell flat. The dish came with three and the only one I truly liked was the Ginger & Coriander sauce. The peanut sauce was like the worst I’ve ever had and there was something not quite right with the sweet chili sauce. So really, what we were left with for the £13.00 was some shrimp, veggies, rice and ginger sauce. 

Tuk Tuk Stick n’ Grill’s satay platter, London

The entire time we were there, a well-dressed man, who seemed to be the new owner, was running around making sure everything was up to his standards. If I try to picture him now I see him as a Frenchman wearing a cape. So now I see him flying with his cape everywhere to save the day and make sure his staff is filling each sauce to his imaginary line and facing all napkins parallel to the front. This man exuded micromanagement and his pride for this brand-new business. Unfortunately, while emphasis on detail is good, people just want an easy go and good food at a place like Tuk Tuk. If you miss the mark on that, nothing else matters.

They do get points for the little moist towelettes, though! But that’s about it right now. Hopefully they iron out these wrinkles before they’re as relevant as yesterday’s skewers.

Tuk Tuk Stick n’ Grill
233 Portobello Road
London W11 1LT

Don’t! The Hillgate Pub Quiz Night

Okay, so I now regret suggesting The Hillgate Pub as a destination for a casual night out. I am so disappointed with my last experience, and while it could be due to the large crowds a quiz night brings, I really think the problem is that The Hillgate Pub just doesn’t have their act together.

Chalkboard options at The Hillgate Pub, London

Quiz nights are huge in London. We have them in the States (usually referred to as Trivia Night), but not like this. Pretty much every single pub dedicates a night of the week to invite its patrons to participate in an evening of eating, drinking, and test-taking. I had been dying to see what it was all about, and finally got my wish on a Monday at The Hillgate Pub. I chose this pub for my first experience since I had previously had a lovely little evening with my husband there. The place was cute and quaint, the food delicious. I headed back expecting the same level of quality and service with my sister and a couple of friends. 

Quiz time at the Hillgate Pub, London

We got there early so we could order drinks and eat before the 8:00 trivia festivities began. The bartender said he would be right over to take orders. After looking at the menu, deciding, and waiting about 15 minutes, I got up to place the order directly with him at the bar, as he seemed tied up there and incredibly understaffed. Instead of taking my order, he told me he would be right over again, and we proceeded to wait another 10 minutes. I got up again, this time making it extremely clear that he needed to take my order, seeing as we still didn’t even have drinks yet, we were all starving, and trivia was about to begin. I placed the order and drinks eventually came over. The evening progressed with all four of us constantly trying to grab the bartender/server’s attention to refresh drinks, clear old glasses and dinner plates, and to ask for meals and sides that either never came, came out wrong, or were just plain disappointing. The entire service and dinner experience was lame, but the main focus of this night was the trivia, so let me tell you about that.

Once we were semi-drunk and full (but already irritated with the place) the trivia began. It was only £2 or something to enter, so the turnout was pretty decent. There were probably seven teams competing for a free bar tab and a little extra cash. In addition to these seven teams, there was ongoing chatter from the dining side and the bar that made it impossible to hear any of the questions. We had to stand up and ask our neighbors to repeat questions since the heavy-accented English lady had a lame microphone and spent her whole time at the opposite end of the restaurant. 

It wouldn’t have mattered if we heard the questions anyway. The game was extremely challenging for foreigners, but that aside, the place seemed full of cheaters. Most tables were using their phones and the lady in charge didn’t seem that concerned. My table was full of a bunch of rule-biding citizens, so this was extremely difficult for us to witness. The whole experience was loud, unfriendly, drawn out chaos. We obviously lost, not too bad because we had one English chap on our team, but bad enough. I still love trivia and would give it another go at a different establishment, but definitely not at The Hillgate. 

In summary, if you’re looking for weeknight fun, perhaps a silly, easygoing game of trivia with some drinks, friends , and food, London is the place to be. The Hillgate Pub is not.
The Hillgate Pub
24 Hillgate Street
London w8 7SR

Don’t! Notting Hill Carnival

So, I decided to wait a couple days after the Notting Hill Carnival to write this post. I knew that some of my disdain for the two day London festival needed to dissipate before I scared you all away with how much anger I could have towards an event. I have calmed down following this weekend’s festivities, and am now ready to tell you what the Notting Hill Carnival means to me.

Portobello Road during London’s Notting Hill Carnival

The Notting Hill Carnival is huge. The type of huge you can only believe with your own eyes. It spans the entire Notting Hill neighborhood, and every single resident is affected, for better or for worse. About one million people per day head to the West London neighborhood to watch it transform from its quaint and posh little self to a mosh pit of dancing drunks celebrating the Afro-Caribbean subculture living within the community. 

The Afro-Caribbean celebration means for two days, the air is filled with the smoke of jerk chicken barbecues and copious amounts of marijuana, and the sounds of reggae music blasting from 10 foot speakers found on every street. Those streets are packed with scantily clad visitors either in Caribbean-inspired feathers, underwear, and parade garb, looking to celebrate their roots, and a million other nationalities that have come to watch the mayhem unfold or add to it. 

A parade marcher at the Notting Hill Carnival

The Carnival could be great if it actually had a message or a visible point. It’s so spread out, dirty, and packed, that you don’t get a sense of another culture. You don’t even know what you’re looking at. It’s just a mess. There are parades over the two days which are the best reminders of what you are there for. Who you are there to celebrate and understand. But after that, you’re drinking rum and watching people piss on the street and fall down. 

The Preparation: The Notting Hill Carnival is a huge imposition on the residents of the community. Since every open front door and stoop either gets graffitied or urinated all over, every owner needs to spend time and money boarding up the front of their homes. Our group of townhouses were gated in and require a guard at each end of the fencing. On top of this, us residents need to prepare for a two day apocalypse. No restaurants will be open. No dry cleaners. No pet stores. No gyms. No tube stations. Nothing. The entire neighborhood shuts down. My husband and I spent Saturday preparing like we would for a Nor’easter storm back home. Most locals choose to leave, which is, of course, another added expense. We choose to stay because we have animals and do not feel comfortable leaving them alone, confused by the extreme crowds and the booming bass that can be heard around the clock.

The Carnival: The morning starts out fine. The streets are not too busy and although the constant thumping of the speakers and the smell of jerk in my home gets old real fast, it’s not what it will be in a few hours. I pray that is stays lighthearted and tame, but without fail, that is the calm before the storm.

Westbourne Grove during the Notting Hill Carnival, London

Once lunchtime rolls around, the streets start to fill up. By 2:00, you will start to see people unravel. Inhibitions are lost and the animalistic side of humanity comes out in a very dark way. Men and women alike treat the neighborhood like a toilet. Baring it all, thongs, asses, squatting, falling and trying to urinate on any vertical surface they can lean on. This doesn’t matter if it is someone’s car or front door. They do not care. The same pee spot will become a lovers playground for X-rated grinding, fondling, and more falling. The scene has changed, as well as the vibe. Something doesn’t feel right in the air. People seem drunk and happy, but behind the sloppiness is an angry undertone. Maybe it’s oppression, maybe it’s all the thugs. I don’t know. There were multiple stabbings and a death this year.  A man bumped into me, which I thought was an accident, but then his friend simultaneously tried to trip me. My husband shielded me, and these two men started following us. They did not know us. They were just looking for a fight. So many people at the Notting Hill Carnival are looking for a fight. Last year I watched a drunken man punch a female bartender in the face after she asked him to get off of her service counter. The scene is scary. 

Public urination at the Notting Hill Carnival

The cops do not make you feel any safer. There are about 9,000 police for two million people. They can’t be bothered to stop every drunken asshole urinating and smashing bottles. They are reserved for the murderers, rapists, and robbers. You know, all of your favorite Carnival people. It’s quite sad. So, why does the pretty little neighborhood have this festival every year? I don’t think they have a choice. There’s talk that the riot for not having it would be worse that the disturbing weekend already is. If you canceled the August Bank Holiday Carnival, they would all still come, with their nitrous and graffiti, paper bags of booze, and tiny outfits, but this time they would be angry and the houses would not be prepared with their plywood and cage protection. It’s a situation where residents can’t win.

The Aftermath: It’s now two days later and my street still reeks of urine. We haven’t had rain (for once) so the puddles of toxicity have dried as have the hints of graffiti all over the neighborhood. There is still broken glass between all of the cobblestone and the piles of litter will be lingering for at least another week. I drove by workers repairing store front tiles and repainting their entrances. No one gets reimbursed for this maintenance. It’s just all an assumed responsibility of the community. One I do not stand by or agree with. 

As you can see, I’m not a fan. I’ve tried. I’ve lived it. I’ve gotten wasted on rum punch and danced and woken up hungover. But that’s all I have ever gotten from the Notting Hill Carnival. A hangover. No magical, amazing time that made me love my neighborhood or want to fly right to a  Jamaican vacation. Nothing. Just a hangover.

The ugly side of the Notting Hill Carnival, London

Notting Hill Carnival
Notting Hill

Don’t! Portobello House Bar/Bistro

Another don’t! I must say, I’ve had quite a few these days. I’m hoping my luck changes this weekend when I have my sister in town for a jam-packed five days of activities. For now, let me help spare you from picking the wrong bistro to spend your precious time and hard-earned money.

Portobello House, London

The Portobello House calls itself a “Boutique Hotel.” I think that term is used wayyyy too loosely and pretty much describes any space that is small and has some eclectic decor. Since I have never stayed at Portobello House or seen any of the hotel rooms, this review is solely for the ground floor bar and restaurant that wraps around the front of the building. Located right on the corner of Ladbroke Grove, in Notting Hill, Portobello House has the quaint and colorful exterior that you would expect in such a darling neighborhood. The inside, however, is anything but. After I spent some time in the restaurant, I was reminded of something a girl I knew once said. I thought she lived by the church near Portobello House, but she corrected me by stating “No, no. I live on the posh end of Ladbroke Grove.” I didn’t care for the comment (or even her after that attitude), but really, after spending a lot of time on the north side, you realize there is definitely a posh end.

Notting Hill’s Portobello House on Ladbroke Grove

Portobello House’s clientele can be described as a hot mess. The men and women that frequent the place seem to be wasted. The men are shouting at their football games and chain-smoking out front. The women are doing the same, while trying to adjust their too tight skirts while navigating through the place on impractical heels. Someone referred to the place as “chavy.” Since this word is still new to me and my American diction, I don’t know if it is or isn’t, but I would say that person usually knows what they’re talking about.

The establishment clearly enjoys the patrons it caters to, because they’re not doing themselves any favors. The place is decorated like the “boutique hotels” you would find up north, in a place like Derby, not in Notting Hill. There are neon lights, champagne bottles on display, and ornate chandeliers. Someone thought those things made a statement when put together, and then decided to take it all even further with menu chalkboards, black and white movies playing from a projector, and shabby chic wallpaper. It is design overload, meant to wow the uncultured guest where a multitude of trends must equal good taste.

Interesting design choices at London’s Portobello House

Now for something positive. The food is tasty. The menu has something for everyone because (like the decor) it’s kind of all over the place. But, that’s okay. Some days I want spaghetti, others chicken satay, mac n’ cheese, nachos, or a cheese board. You just never know. My husband, on the other hand, who is forever paralyzed by choice, hates it. I usually opt for the mixed Tapas & Bruchetta Board they offer to mix in a little bit of everything when sharing with a friend. They have an extremely powerful Gorgonzola Bruschetta which really is amazing. They’re all guilty pleasure snacks, so don’t go if you’re on a diet or vegan that day.

If you’re thinking at this point, it sounds like she’s been there more than once, you’re right. It took some time for me to categorize this one. My last visit sealed Portobello House’s fate after some poor, slow service and a plethora of rude and loud customers. Their Happy Hour specials and tasty apps are not good enough to keep coming back. And for that, they’re a don’t! Do not be tempted by their smart and pretty website, FYI, the place must just be photogenic. That’s all.

London’s Portobello House


Portobello House
225 Ladbroke Grove
London W10 6HQ