Words & Photography by Felicity Spector
Holland Street, W8, is one of those roads where everything is just so: a branch of Ottolenghi. A rather smart gallery. A cobbled, winding pathway leading to a small mews, strewn with climbing roses. And now, a new neighbourhood restaurant; itself so bijou and beautifully turned out it could have come straight from the pages of Vogue Living.
The Terrace on Holland Street has been transformed by Leith’s graduate Sara Adams – the cooking talent behind the highly regarded Kensington Square Kitchen – and her husband Chris Hodgkinson, a former chartered surveyor who has clearly had a big hand in the stylish refurb.
|Image courtesy of The Terrace|
The kitchen is run by head chef James Kelly, who is aiming to put together a small but seasonal menu of “British inspired” dishes – it will change frequently, although customer demand seems to mean there will always be a place for a properly done steak and chips.
There are just 20 covers at The Terrace, although if there is any warm weather there’ll be double that, thanks to a rather lovely outside terrace. Chris told me there had been one outside lunch service so far, on the single day the sun managed to drag the temperatures to more springlike levels.
But on the night we visited, on the invitation of The Terrace team, it was definitely a night for sitting indoors. Everything was very comfortable, the decor a tasteful dove grey, and as I arrived, slightly late, my niece was happily enjoying a glass of sauvignon blanc. “This place is lovely!”
As we looked over the menu a waiter arrived with some slices of warm treacle soda bread, with some deliciously creamy butter: one of the best breads I’ve had for ages. A very good start indeed.
The starters all looked so tempting I decided to have two instead of a main: asparagus with an eggs mimosa style topping, followed by seared mackerel fillet with a smoked mackerel bonbon (and who could resist one of those?) with a little beetroot and blood orange salad.
My niece went for the crab on toast, with a twist of apple and fennel salad, and then sea bass with asparagus and crushed potato, mainly because she liked the sound of the blood orange hollandaise it came with.
I loved the asparagus: cooked just right, with a scattering of chopped roasted hazelnuts on top of the finely diced egg, to add a bit of texture. The crab on toast was just right, generous without being too rich.
When my mackerel arrived I wished I had taken up the waiter’s offer to upsize it to a main course portion. It was really well balanced, with a sharp tangle of beetroot and orange to cut through the oily fish, and as for the bonbon, soft, fluffy in a crunchy crumb – if only all fishcakes were as well made.
My niece made short work of the sea bass and especially loved the much-anticipated blood orange hollandaise, resolving to try making it herself at home.
I couldn’t resist a chocolate fondant for pudding, which came with a ginger creme anglaise and some honeycomb, although I prefer my chocolate pure and simple, so I asked for the fondant on its own.
There is that moment, when a fondant arrives, when you wonder if this is one of the ones which works: will there be that essential ooze when you cut into it? This one certainly didn’t disappoint: the centre spilled out onto the plate in a reassuringly liquid pool, the chocolate was dark and rich. My niece, who fancies herself a bit of a cocktail maven, asked for an Old Fashioned instead of dessert, which kept her happy.
The team take great care sourcing the best produce, much of it from local suppliers – and as much attention goes into the wine list, which they promise will be updated regularly.
All evening, we were surrounded by a sort of contented hum: the other customers, many of them locals, seemed more than happy with their new neighbourhood gaff. Service was friendly and relaxed, and prices seem reasonable for the area.
I normally only head for High Street Ken to hang out at the big Whole Foods Market down the road. Now there’s a new place worth crossing town for.
33C Holland Street
London, W8 4LX
T. +44 20 7937 9252