Remember Terroirs? Petits plats, acres of wine? Or its neighbourhood spin-offs, Brawn (Columbia Road), Soif (Battersea) and Toasted (East Dulwich)? Their early years awesomeness can be put down to two chaps: chef Ed Wilson and front-of-house manager Oli Barker. The group split amicably in 2014 – no smashing of crockery, no calling of names – with Wilson taking on full independent ownership of Brawn. Now it’s Barker’s turn to launch his solo career. He’s installed an ex-Terroirs chef in the kitchen and opened Six Portland Road, a neighbourhood restaurant where substance beats the shit out of style. And I do mean that in the nicest way possible.
There’s no glitz, no cutting-edge cool – in fact the only thing you could call vaguely trendy is the vintage hardware store sign hanging above the door (it’s from the original 1920s occupants; the builders uncovered it by accident). Just a long, lean room, simply furnished, where the food does all the talking.
And this is grown-up food. While the menus at Terroirs et al were always quite playful, with plenty for snacking or sharing, the line-up here is traditional – we’re in prime Holland Park after all, where collars are starched and upper lips stiff – as in, starters-mains-puds (plus nibbles, if you must).
First up: lamb sweetbreads (if you don’t know what these are, probably best not to Google them). These are easy to spoil, but here arrived bouncy and crisp-skinned with creamy, buttery centres, teamed with grilled baby spring onions and a nutty, piquant romesco. A glorious Catalan fish stew was fat with shellfish, a crisp-skinned fillet of succulent hake laid on top.
The Terroirs boys always did a mean line in cured and pressed meat, so it would have been rude not to have the boudin noir (blood sausage). A giant coin of soft meatiness, it had the consistency of a dessert, the kind you’d only allow yourself after a bad break-up: lustrous, comforting, sinful. To cut through: a base of spring veg, glittering like a heap of pretty little gemstones.
Finally, decadent chocolate mousse with crème fraîche, golden almond slices and Griottine cherries (aka boozy ones, another Terroirs hallmark). It’s flawless.
And yet 6PR is not perfect: some tables are less VIP, more P. The two at the back feel disconnected from the main restaurant (guess where I sat… ah, the joys of anonymity). Ask for tables 9-14 instead. But the wine list assembled with flair and service is assured. This is a no-frills neighbourhood restaurant for a seasoned, west London crowd.