A pop-up in Notting Hill's Kensington Place is a bit fishy when it comes to the salmon doner kebab, says Emily Rookwood
#FISHbone (hashtag and all) is the name of a new pop-up diner in the private dining room of Notting Hill's Kensington Place. Dolled up as a mock-seaside diner, with vintage posters and seaside paraphernalia, you will be able to enjoy a little seaside ambiance in W8 until the end of March.
On the day we popped in to #FISHbone it was unexpectedly full of retired folk enjoying their fish and chips and a few local businessmen in suits (including someone who features on one of the Spear's Indices no less). Not the usual crowd you find in a pop-up though I'm sure the weekend punters are somewhat more varied.
The menu has been designed by head chef of Kensington Place, Dan Loftin, and is a fishy take on the current but certainly not new trend of fast food. (They are calling it 'fast-fish'.) Instead of chicken wings you have skate wings with a tangy chili mayo and beef burgers are replaced with tuna burgers. The skate wings were very good actually, tender but meaty fish with a lovely piquant sauce. They are fried in a light batter, which thankfully avoided being laden with grease.
The yellowfin tuna burger comes with a little sesame, soy and radish garnish. The bun was a touch mealy sadly and visually it looked rather anaemic. The taste was perfectly fine, especially when dipped into the mayo from the wings, but it could easily be improved to make something much more appealing – a zing of lime or a bundle of fresh herbs would set things off nicely.
The salmon doner kebab is a bit of a let down, much like the majority of doner kebabs you find twirling forlornly in shop windows up and down the country. It was comprised of fairly unexciting cured salmon in a little pitta bread with some bitter kohlrabi-esque strips and a dollop of sauce. I wouldn't order it again. The prawnish pasties, however, were very good. Flaky pastry and a well seasoned and flavourful filling.
The sides include the ubiquitous triple cooked chip, onion rings, salad both of a green and potato variety and then a fennel slaw. The fennel was surprisingly enjoyable and this is coming from someone who isn't keen on much with an aniseed flavour. It was mild, fresh and added a welcome bit of crunch to our blue plastic tray of fast-fish. The potato salad was also perfectly enjoyable in its little white paper cup.
The puddings came in enameled beakers or small jam jars and were sweet but not overly sickly: a sticky toffee Sunday – pretty much what you'd expect – cake and cream both whipped and iced – and a passionfruit posset, a smooth set cream with a excellently tart passionfruit flavour. Perfect to cut through any greasiness from your mains.
#FISHbone is a fun place, and from overheard conversations fully booked over the weekends, but it is a little steep on the pricing given the portion sizes – dishes averaging out at about ’7 and you would easily need three for a decent feed. The food is enjoyable enough and with some small modifications and perhaps larger portions could be transformed into something altogether more moreish.