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An iconic west London pub gets a gastro facelift.
If you choose to drink in Notting Hill, you will have come to terms with £6 pints. That’s something I hadn’t prepared myself for at The KPH (Kensington Park Hotel), the legendary local of both The Clash and seedy postwar necrophile John Christie, who was supposedly a regular. But the pub – now a Henry Harris establishment – has had the sort of gastro revamp campaigners feared would happen as a part of the area’s so-called ‘social cleansing’.
The upstairs has been converted into boutique rooms and a smart dining space, but the ground floor stays dedicated to drinks. It’s had the kind of makeover that strips away the history (and to an extent the personality), but is hard to hate since it’s so good-looking – my companion described it as ‘New Orleans chic’.
Twelve keg and three cask lines hold those pricy pints, although I didn’t really mind paying the extra for the good stuff, a jar of The Kernel’s Export India Porter. Brilliant bar snacks – from terrine to taramasalata – gave a taste of the fancy things going on upstairs.
Its edgier vibes might have been neutralised, but music lives on, with a jazzy quartet starting on dreary Norah Jones covers before picking up the pace with Sister Sledge and Stevie Wonder. Some of a gaggle of locals – from a generation that clearly still knows how to drink – even got up to groove for a bar or two. Maybe the millennials are priced out at The KPH, but those oldies seemed happy that their old haunt is still swinging.
139 Ladbroke Grove
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