Notting Hillbillies will remember this as the site of The Commander, a fun pub with decent food and then the Californian Pomona, which was a slightly strange brunch destination that seemed to mainly cater for local children’s birthday parties. Thankfully, The Princess Royal has now gone back to its roots as a pub (albeit a very smart one) and its original name from the late 19th century.
Tucked away in the heart of Notting Hill, The Princess Royal is an artfully designed pub with a restaurant, bar, and stunning gardens designed by Jinny Blom. It even has four beautifully decorated bedrooms, a rare find in the area. Cubitt House – the team behind institutions like Thomas Cubitt in Belgravia and The Grazing Goat in Marylebone - has teamed up with acclaimed chef Ben Tish, formerly of Norma in Fitzrovia, who has created a menu inspired by the Mediterranean with a focus on seasonal British produce.
On arrival the restaurant was buzzing. We were shown to our table in a cosy little nook of the conservatory with lush potted plants flowing over the bare brick walls. The 'Pedratonica' cocktail - a white port based concoction with tonic and basil - proved both aromatic and refreshing. Small plates showed the kitchen's new found confidence and the rarified ingredients: spicy whipped nduja & fennel biscuits and the smoked anchovies, quail’s eggs & picked shallots on toast - both delicious. Our well-heeled neighbours were spied enjoying oysters, crudo prawns, Cornish crab and beef tartare from the raw bar giving us slight food envy.
For the mains, my guest took on the challenge of the 600g josper grilled T-Bone with dandelion, rosemary and garlic fries with aioli – what looked like half a cow was so tender that not one morsel was left in the plate. The grilled Dorset coast monkfish with mussels, borlotti, chilli and salsa verde was a generous dish with a fascinating combination of flavours with every element working in harmony. A Croatian wine Malvazija Istarska paired wonderfully with the fish and a classic Spanish Rioja Reserva: Senorio de Pecina with the steak.
To finish, two puddings: the Amalfi lemon and almond cake with whipped mascarpone was out of this world, transporting us to Italy in a mouthful, and the chocolate ganache with chestnut honey ice cream and toasted walnuts was perfectly gooey.
Another trip is being planned to try the raw bar and enjoy the stunning garden this summer so let’s hope Princess Royal is there to stay, this will not be a hidden gem for long.