Published on March 20th, 2015 | by Ben Southwood0
Evoluzione @ Hotel Xenia, Kensington
If you spend all of your time south or only a smidgeon north of the Thames like me, then the giant broad thoroughfares and old world hotels of Gloucester Road will seem a bit strange and unlived-in. Most of the Best Westerns and giant chain hotel towers look very unwelcoming and unimpressive. But Hotel Xenia stands out with a lovely subtle pink paint job and a swish-looking glass-topped restaurant.
I went along there for the launch of a new series of dinners run by impressive guest chefs from around Italy. Our night was themed Sicilian, which according to the Sicilian chef who introduced the food to us is more part of Africa than Europe, which reminded of the famous aphorism “Garibaldi didn’t unify Italy; he annexed Africa”.
The food gave the lie to this claim; it fit right into the ‘Italian’ space in my head, though it was quirky and a bit different. We were served inventive dishes like ‘scallop noodles’—the chefs successfully slivered up a chunk of scallop meat into a flat egg noodley texture and even to some extent taste.
The bread too was fresh, soft and there were six different kinds; the olive oil was deeply grassy as advertised. Not everything came off, as is perhaps to be expected on a launch night. I found the pasta and seafood dish bland, but was brought to life by a glorious lobster bisque.
There will be other chefs intending to give other Italian regional food cultures the swanky hotel restaurant tasting menu treatment every six weeks from now, although the Sicilian duo (Pietro D’Agostino is Sicilian, he is working with a non-Sicilian with long experience in Sicilian food) have flown back home. At £65/head plus wine it’s not cheap on some abstract level, but it compares favourably price-wise to what one might easily spend elsewhere—if one were splashing out.
Hotel restaurants can get a bad rep, and tend to be relatively conservative and unambitious; a rotating guest chef programme risks missteps but makes for a more interesting and rich experience overall.
Evoluzione @ Hotel Xenia costs £65pp and takes place from 21st April – 25th November. To book visit http://www.hotelxenia.co.uk/evoluzione.htmlShare This Post