108 Garage

Restaurants, Contemporary European North Kensington
4 out of 5 stars
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Credit: Andy Parsons
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Credit: Andy Parsons
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Credit: Andy Parsons
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Credit: Andy Parsons
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Credit: Andy Parsons
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Credit: Andy Parsons

A stylish Ladbroke Grove joint with ultra-contemporary cooking.

If I told you that this garage (duh) conversion at the crappy end of Portobello Road – founded by a tousle-haired former financier with a country-hotel chef he found on Gumtree – was the capital’s flavour of the month… well, the more cynical among you would be forgiven for eye-rolling me out of the room.

But that’s just what’s happened. This publicist’s wet dream of a backstory has resulted in a rather lovely spot that, while not quite a game-changer – and despite subsisting purely on word of mouth for its first few months – is already an utter bastard to get a table at.

The dining room is a handsome mix of dark mid-century furniture, bare bricks, corrugated iron and great washes of copper. Decoration is eccentric: a display of pipe fittings hangs on one wall; a dystopian, vorticist-style metal artwork on another, facing a painting that’s half Henry VIII and half Vigo the Carpathian from ‘Ghostbusters II’. Cabbages dot the bar. The place is muscular, atmospheric and ever so slightly ’90s. Staff are casual, verging on matey, but extremely charming. Pats on the back all round, then.

Ah, but the food. The star turns come last. There is sweet potato ice cream on a Styrofoam-light bed of popcorn and zingy sheep’s yoghurt. More memorable still is a dense chocolate crémeux, which comes with an ace artichoke ice cream perched on a mound of toasted wild rice (maggots in appearance, Proustian Rice Krispies in practice).

Everything in between is meticulous. Decent sourdough comes with a light lardo-whipped butter but is a better vehicle still for little bowls of near-liquid chicken-liver parfait and sharp, silken tarama with only the faintest whiff of roe.

A single veal sweetbread, lightly seared and set atop charred cabbage, is an earthy riot. Roast octopus sees an eldritch limb, yielding and offset by sweet slivers of golden turnip, tahini and a translucent radicchio leaf. It’s so fresh it deserves a slap.

A main of Jacob’s Ladder (beef short rib by another name) tastes like a rich, deconstructed burger. But what a burger – the charred, still-pink flesh falling apart at the sight of a knife, a fine dill pickle tartare sitting on top, a slick of chocolatey black garlic puree underneath. It should be noted, though, that this does not come cheap, especially considering the backwater location. The lunch set menu, for five small courses, weighs in at £35 per head.

With a couple of exceptions (Hiya, The Ledbury! Yoo-hoo, Snaps + Rye!) this part of west London has a reputation as a foodie wasteland. But no longer: 108 Garage is well worth a visit. If you can get in.

By: Tom Howells

Posted:

Venue name: 108 Garage
Contact:
Address: 108 Golborne Road
London
W10 5PS
Transport: Tube: Ladbroke Grove
Price: Lunch for two with drinks and service: around £130.
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Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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This British-Asian restaurant is situated in a refurbished Notting Hill garage.

I sat in a dimly lit bohemian style room where the atmosphere was casual. I began by ordering some bread with whipped duck butter, tarama and chicken liver parfait. The spreads were creamy and added an enjoyable chewy texture to the crusty bread.

For starters, I ordered the Straciatelli which came with peach, gooey cheese, and basil. It wasrather refreshing. For the mains, I had mackerel and rock samphire lampascioni which paired well together.

The chocolate cremeux cardamom ice cream for dessert was rather disappointing. I felt it lacked in decadence. The crémeux was neither a sauce nor a mousse and it needed a crunchy layer or sponge to improve the taste.

The bill totalled an inexpensive £37.97 per head, excluding alcohol.

Overall I would say the place does have a cool vibe about it and the food with the exception of the dessert was enjoyable. But still, I found the menu style to be overly creative and unfortunately there wasn’t one dish exciting enough to lure me back to this place.

tastemaker

I have to say that I was slightly let down by 108 Garage. I don't know exactly what it was but something was missing for me after hearing rave reviews from almost everyone.

Firstly, the menu was quite limited on the night we went and as I don't eat beef, I found the selection limited to mainly fish. Saying this, the sourdough bread with the butter, taramasalata and chicken liver pate was amazing. I could eat that everyday.

For starters I ordered mackerel and for mains I had the monkfish. Both were pleasant, vibrant and fresh dishes.

The dessert menu was also not extensive so we selected a cherry sorbet and a rich chocolate mousse  that came with some ice cream. They were fine.

The service was friendly and quite casual - we had booked a table but we still had to wait 15 minutes for the table to be cleared after we arrived.

It's also fairly expensive and the portion sizes aren't huge.

All in all, I'm glad I went to try it out but I don't think I'll be going back again.

tastemaker

I really enjoyed 108 Garage. The first time I visited was back in March and I enjoyed it so much, and went on about it so much, I finally managed to persuade my other half to visit with me again a few weeks ago. 


The tasting menu is, in my opinion, a genuine bargain. Yes, the plates are quite small, but they are full of flavour and you certainly don't leave feeling hungry. 


Freshly baked bread arrives first with the smoothest, creamiest taramasalata which is whipped to make it lighter than air. Don't think that it won't have any flavour because of this though - it does, and it is delightful. The chicken liver pate was just as wonderful - smooth and light and packed full of flavour, with a slight hint of the bitterness that comes with liver but it wasn't overpowering, it was just right. 


Burrata with pickled green strawberries that cut through the creaminess of the cheese made this dish moreish and refreshing. However, ask for extra bread to scoop it up - cheese needs bread. 


The scallops came with snow. Okay, not quite but that's what the creme fraiche looked like that topped slithers of soft, plump scallops. 


Two pieces of pigeon arrived on the table following the scallops - perfectly pink, of course, and served with a wonderfully rich and decedent blackberry sauce. It looks small on the plate, but it was so rich it made you savour every bite. 


The dessert was the only downfall. Cardamon ice cream is something I've seen popping up on menus a lot recently and I can't understand why. The chocolate mousse was another rich, intense flavour and the popped rice added crunch. If only they would change the ice cream... 


I love seeing what 108 garage create, and I can't wait to go back.