When it comes to January, I’m firmly in the middle between those who are on a New Year New Me campaign and those who think ‘I don’t really care, I need comfort in this bleak time.’ Mornings start with raw green juices, lunches are full of nourishing soups and protein filled salads, come the evening though when it’s dark and inevitably raining then all I want is comfort food. I want carbs, I want pudding and heck I’m going to eat it.
And when the need for hearty, comforting dishes comes calling then Paradise by Way of Kensal Green’s dining room is always on my list. Situated on Kilburn Lane, gastro-pub, Paradise reminds me of a Dickensian, Miss Haversham-esque haunt; with its faded elegance, decadent chandeliers, dried flowers, dark paintings, and crooked, winding wooden stairs all lit by candles. You can go for a drink, check out the live music upstairs, host your private event or do as we did and eat in the dining room.
They’ve had a recent addition in the form of head chef Cat Ashton. Having grown up in Australia and worked in Momo Melbourne, Cat then explored both Turkish and Scottish cuisine before moving to London, finding a mentor in chef Greg Malouf and working at Petersham Nurseries. For Cat it’s all about seasonal, quality cooking and simple, hearty, British dishes, influenced by her travels. Dishes on the menu include, quail, kale and dandelion salad with candied walnuts, chickpeas and garlic and grilled pork loin on the bone, burnt apple, fennel with orange salad, and a pomegranate dressing.
We started with seared sesame tuna, avocado Fattoush salad and tahini yogurt; bringing the Middle Eastern influence to the menu, the dish was beautiful, the sort where both of us were glad we ordered it – there was going to be no sharing. The light, seared tuna was perfectly balanced with the creamy blend of avocado and yogurt. Next up was a meltingly good char-grilled rib eye with rich roasted bone marrow, winter tomatoes, potatoes and horseradish creme, add to that a side of spinach in olive oil with candied walnuts and you have yourself one super comforting dish. To finish was a good slab of sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream, the waiter told us if we didn’t like the pudding then they didn’t like us – so I’m guessing we’re now best friends because you couldn’t not love it.
On a cold, winter evening, dinner at Paradise by Way of Kensal Green is like a duvet day in a mouthful – reassuring, comforting and ultimately delicious.