Theres never been any shortage of decent watering holes in fashionable Notting Hill, but venture over the canal and until recent memory pickings have been slim. With a number of new openings and renewed love-local spirit, (thanks in no small part to the community backlash against the closing of the neighbourhoods beloved library) Kensal Rise is on the up. But the infamous Paradise remains king of the hill, a reason to venture northwest at night.
Opened in 2007 by the Columbo Group (Love & Liquor, Blues Kitchen, XOYO), Paradise has the laid-back friendly vibe of the perfect local, but with qualities akin to a private members' club. And its huge. Its sheer size is the first thing to rival Narnia since Lucy and Edmund went digging in the back of the wardrobe. Thats part of its charm the labyrinthine layout of this historic public house make Saturday nights a grown-up game of hide-and-seek. The mismatched Bohemian décor and religious nods to the famous nearby cemetery (sounds morbid - it isnt) only add to its curious ambience.
The entrance opens on to the main bar, where local pilgrims put the world to rights with routine devotion. Theres the Reading Room, complete with fireplace, overstuffed leather sofas and armchairs, perfect for a Sunday Recovery Session tucked up with papers and a Bloody Mary to ease the mornings suffering, ideally post-roast (they do a serious Sunday lunch). Upstairs is the karaoke room, private dining salon, suntrap conservatory and the inimitable Music Room, where many an ELLE girl has snapped a stiletto on a night out on the tiles. Fridays are big here, but Saturdays are bigger expect block party classics and vintage grooves, depending on whos spinning (The Delevigne sisters, Daisy Lowe and Suki Waterhouse are known to be fans). Sundays that fall on Bank Holiday weekends are a veritable institution, particularly during Carnival, when eager festivalgoers take over for three days of seemingly non-stop partying. Its worth checking the website for event listings; beyond the usual bar-type goings-on, theres a host of other happenings, too many to list here, but think vintage clothing fairs, film screenings, open-mic and foodie nights.
And then theres the restaurant; the dimly lit dining room, peppered with Victorian birdcages dangling above heavy wooden tables and mismatched chairs, creates an atmosphere perfect for long pleasant dinners for two or ten. The menu is proudly modern and British, with starters like potted Morecambe Bay Shrimp and Ham Hock Terrine complementing mains of Loch Duart Salmon with Lemon Dressing, and slow-cooked Oxford Sandy Pork Cheek. We opted for Twice-cooked Corn-fed Goosnargh Chicken and a classic Grilled Sirloin with Béarnaise, starting with a Lancashire Goat's Curd, Beetroot and Watercress Salad all excellent. We loved the simple selection of British cheeses to finish, but cant deny we were green-eyed for our neighbours Jaffa Cake, served with Rum Sabayon and Blood Orange Ice Cream, while the spicy house Rioja went down a treat round two at the bar worked even better. Paradise found.
The ELLEuk Score
Style of food: Modern British
Good for: Special occasion, first date, group dinner, big night out
Prices and Other Details at Paradise By Way of Kensal Green
Address: 19 Kilburn Lane, Kensal Green, London, W10 4AE?. Enq: +44 (0) 20 8969 0098, theparadise.co.uk, Twitter: @weloveparadise
Opening times: Mon - Wed 4pm12M, Thu 4pm1am, Fri 4pm2am, Sat noon-2am, Sunday noon - 11.30pm. Kitchen hours vary, reservations advisable at weekends
Average price per person for two-course meal without wine: £25
Price of glass of house wine: Soleus Organic Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley, Chile, 2010 and Pinot Grigio Blush, Via Nova, Veneto, Italy 2011 (£5 glass)?, Austral Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain 2010 (£4 glass)
Price of bottle of house champagne: Veuve Cliquot, Yellow Label, NV £65
Private dining: Yes, either in the private dining room, or main dining room for larger groups. Contact email@example.com for details
Garden/al fresco dining? You can drink iin both the garden and courtyard
Best table? Any although tables on the sidelines allow for prime people- watching
Who goes? Northwest locals, off-duty PRs, and well-heeled Sunday-lunchers with family in tow
Bar? Yes, with same menu during mealtimes, tasty limited bar menu during kitchen down-time
Door Policy? Expect to queue on Friday and Saturday nights, but it wont take long. Cover charge is usually around £5
Nearest tube: Queens Park or Kensal Green; Kensal Rise Overground