I’ve always felt that the Bumpkin restaurants get an unjustly rough ride from the restaurant critics. I have read a fair few which have had a dig at its country-living, shabby chic interior design, while others lay claim to the fact that their mothers make a far superior apple crumble. But, seeing as I’ve always had a good meal there, I agreed to review the Notting Hill branch of Bumpkin (which first opened exactly six years ago) with Blonde last Friday night.
I think it’s correct to say that one goes to a Bumpkin restaurant looking for comfort. The group of – now three – restaurants doesn’t promise to deliver culinary firsts, food drama nor stark, cutting edge interiors. No, it promises cosy, comfort food.
And the weather was perfect for our promised cosiness. Freezing cold and pouring rain saw us crawl inside the inviting dining room at 209 Westbourne Park Road. From flowery wallpaper, linen tea towels as napkins and brilliantly elegant mismatched china, you immediately feel as though you have been transported to some kooky great aunt’s farmhouse kitchen in Somerset.
Anyway, British comfort food is in itself underrated. I mean, why would you choose to eat fussy, minimalist food when you can have a hearty cauliflower cheese or chicken and leek pie on a cold autumnal evening?
Blonde and I were well overdue a life-catch-up. Cocktails ordered, menu choices made and we were well on the road to fixing that. There was no jostling for our table (how that winds me up) and because we didn’t feel at all rushed through our courses, we were a little surprised to find that three hours had passed since we sat down.
We had shared the West Coast crayfish (£8.95) and Cornish crab (£9.95) to start. And then for mains, I had adored the Durham venison special with mash and tons of rich gravy (£18.95) while Blonde had opted for the Loch Duart Salmon with cider cream sauce (£16.95). But the best bit of the whole meal was the pudding we shared: cherry bakewell tart served with clotted Cornish cream (£5.95).
A true Downton Abbey addict, I’m delighted to notice that Lady Grantham is partial to a little bakewell tart when she finds herself peckish mid-afternoon. With flaky pastry and toasted almonds, Bumpkin’s version is so delicious it might have even saved Lady Sybil…
Before we braved the almost freezing temperatures outside, Blonde and I took a quick peak upstairs (always hunting a party room for future good times) and found a few hillie-billies enjoying some early in-door fireworks, cocktails, DJ Nicholas Feel and Andrew McAttee’s latest pop-up artwork as part of Bumpkin’s regular Something in the Attic.