Monday, January 24, 2011
A night in Paradise, Kensal Green
It's not every day that two beautiful women ask you to join them in Paradise. I couldn't say yes quickly enough. Unfortunately, once I had rolled my tongue back into my mouth and taken a reality check, I looked into this a bit more and realised that "Paradise" was in fact a den of food and drink, and not iniquity. All the same, a night in good company eating and drinking? I can't think of many better things to do on a Friday night.
"Paradise" is located in the wasteland that is Kensal Green, a strange Bermuda Triangle for transport. Recalling my frankly horrendous journey home from the nearby Dock Kitchen in the summer, I really wasn't looking forward to the impending journey later in the evening, but a gin and tonic at the rapidly filling bar area was bound to offset my travel woes. It did.
I was shortly joined by my companions for the evening (the aforementioned beautiful women, and a few other guys) and we sat, drank and chatted, the precursor to most enjoyable evenings. Mood lightened and we were ready for food. Led to the back of the building, we entered a spacious room filled with other diners, and other quirky knick knacks (birdcages, animal heads and other paraphernalia) and sat down. The menu itself is pretty par for the course for your everyday London gastro pub, although it certainly read well and started to make my mouth water. I wanted a bit of everything.
Luckily there were 5 of us and we did end up having a bit of quite a lot. To start, I opted for a fowl terrine, consisting of nuggets of chicken, duck and pheasant. I was surprised at being able to distinguish each individual bird, and with a really rather nice and tart cranberry relish, I managed to polish the lot off with minor assistance. In exchange, I snaffled tasters of scallops and soup, all excellently executed, although I was quietly pleased that my favourite dish was the dish sitting in front of me.
After the terrine, I was really looking forward to my main of smoked haddock, egg and leeks, but felt saddened by all the great looking dishes being delivered around me. A whole butternut squash filled with lentils would normally turn my stomach, but the lentils had been cooked so that bite remained, and whatever liquor it had been cooked in had imparted a quite delicious flavour. The duck was well, it was just wonderful. Generous portions of tender duck and perfectly crisped up skin. I suffered massive food envy. That's not to say that mine wasn't enjoyable, it's just everyone else's choices were so good.
Desserts were a complete dud note, so the less said about them the better, but it certainly didn't put a dampener on the evening. With a name like Paradise, it certainly has a lot to live up to, but thankfully it could mostly justify those claims with a solid display from the kitchen. It seemed the party was just beginning as we left as the clock struck twelve, having to wade through the revellers in the front bar, but I was very satisfied. In my old(er) age, I favour parties of the dinner kind and spending a fun evening with friends was a pretty perfect Friday night for me. Was it Paradise? Not quite, but it's heading in the right direction.
Paradise by way of Kensal Green - 19 Kilburn Lane, Kensal Green, London, W10 4AE
Flickr Photoset here.