The Knight of Notting Hill - review: refined Indian food in an iconic London pub
The Knight of Notting Hill serves refined and tasty Indian food in an iconic west London haunt.
What ultimately do you want from a Friday night visit to a pub? Some drinks to welcome in the weekend, delicious, comforting food and a story to tell your mates the next time you go for a pint. All of these boxes were checked and more at an eventful Halloween evening at the Knight of Notting Hill.
The pub, which was recently refurbished and renamed, has Akash Singh as head chef, who previously worked at Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Benares and the Three Falcons in St John’s Wood. It's a new era and change for one of London’s most storied pubs. Previously called the Kensington Park Hotel, but known fondly as the KPH, it played host to Tom Jones’ first gig in the capital, and was a major hangout of The Clash.
Serial killer John Christie - who murdered at least eight people - was rumoured to have worked behind the bar in the 1940s, and it was used as a location for the 1971 film about his crimes, 10 Rillington Place, with Sir Richard Attenborough. After being declared an asset of community value by Kensington and Chelsea Council in 2014, it’s been renovated and reopened under its new name.
Walking in on the Friday before Halloween and the Knight of Notting Hill has gone all out. There are ghosts, pumpkins and spiders’ webs all over the pub walls and staff are walking round armed with shots in pipettes. A DJ is blasting out classic dance tunes like Blue Monday, in a nod to the pub’s musical history, and a woman is swaying to the beats.
We’re seated in the corner and it feels like a slightly odd environment for fine dining, however this won’t be the case for long. The pub’s manager tells me they’re preparing a dining room upstairs, which will open soon.
The menu boasts a series of tantalising Indian dishes, along with some elevated pub classics such as the wagyu beef burger and pappardelle with blue cheese. We choose the pork belly tacos (£16), lamb chops with spiced aubergine mash (£18), the roasted half baby chicken (£17) and battered aubergine with jungle curry (£14.50). We go for flatbread and paratha as sides, along with a special request for the parmesan fries which come with the burger.
Two large tacos come out first, and the pork belly is perfectly charred. The tortilla is nice and light, and the piquillo ketchup tastes like a smoky romesco sauce. Two big Cotswolds lamb chops arrive next slathered in the Himalayan aubergine sauce. They are grilled to perfection, and would rival any of the famous tandoor houses of Whitechapel like Tayyabs and Lahore Kebab House.
The spiced aubergine mash that comes with the chops is the star of the plate (and probably the whole menu) and I clean the plate with the flaky paratha. The baby chicken is cooked to perfection, moist and succulent, and came with a light, curry sauce that tasted a bit like gravy. The only slight let down is the battered aubergine, which came as a huge chunk, and struggled in comparison to the deep, earthy flavours of its namesake alongside the chops.
The paratha is delicious, light and flaky, and the flatbread is nicely toasted and comes with some dips. It is classy, refined pub food that is perfect for sharing with mates or a partner. We wash it all down with glasses of pinot noir and sauvignon blanc, which are a significant upgrade on your average house red or white.
Just as we’re about to leave, the local sitting next to us, who’s been nursing a glass of wine, tells us he’s getting a bottle of champagne and would like to share it with us. The answer to a complimentary glass of champagne is always yes, so we settle back in for an impromptu night cap of Moet. He tells us he’s been coming to the pub for 40 years, and appears to like the refurbishment.
Forty minutes and two large glasses of champagne later, we say our goodbyes and make our way towards Ladbroke Grove Tube station with full stomachs and a story for a rainy day.