Looking for restaurants in Notting Hill? Read our review of Orasay, and check out more suggestions for eating in Notting Hill here.
Orasay in a nutshell
Modern, cool cooking in a posh end of town, with big flavours and the best British produce, particularly Scottish shellfish, from one of London’s most talked-about chefs.
Chef-patron Jackson Boxer, who’s best known for St Leonards, his restaurant with Andrew Clarke (who has an interest here, too) and Brunswick House. The name of the restaurant, and menu, is inspired by family holidays in the Hebrides.
What’s the vibe?
Perhaps not what you’d expect for the neighbourhood. Stripped-back 70s springs to mind with its comfy burnt-orange banquettes, rattan-panelled chairs, clothless, minimalist wooden tables, exposed brick and concrete, and flickering candlelight. We visit Monday night, only a few weeks in, and it’s buzzing.
What’s the food like?
Any meal that starts with little fried shrimp, dusted in celery salt, that you’re encouraged to eat whole – head, shell and all – has got to be good. And it was, right through to the posh rice pudding at the end, hiding sweet and sour, Pink Panther-hued stewed rhubarb, fired up with ginger, and topped with a crisp brandy snap.
If you can resist not filling up on snacks such as fried bread with spring anchovies, or house bread with whey butter, pick from a selection of small plates to start. (Particularly those inspired by Jackson’s childhood Scottish jaunts.) Dainty Barra surf clams come grilled with a sticky, umami-rich XO sauce and a fresh, zingy ginger relish on top. A sweet Isle of Mull diver scallop meets its earthy match with creamy puréed celeriac, nutty browned butter and caramelised cubes of shiitake mushrooms.
Bigger, main-sized plates are still ripe for sharing, such as the Tamworth chop, its creamy sweet fat crisp and caramelised, the meat daringly pink and juicy. It would be special enough on its own, but it’s even better with its bed of stewed white beans (still with just a bit of bite – that’s proper cooking in action, folks), mellow garlic, a tickle of chilli, sweet shallots and bitter green turnip tops. Another plate of roasted brill fillet – skin crisp, fish milky and meaty all at once – was equally well partnered up with soft, buttery strands of leeks, cockles lolling around in their shells, and a sunshine-yellow pool of aïoli.
And the drinks?
Fresh and lively wines come by the tap here, as well as in bottles – look out for South African sauvignons, Burgundy chardonnays and young gamay from Beaujolais. It’s worth trying the drink specials, too – a non-alcoholic ginger kefir is a great palate cleanser to kick things off.
Get chatting to the charming and knowledgeable staff – they’re exemplary in their hosting skills, understanding, with passionate detail, each and every dish and drink available on the menu.
Orasay, 31 Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill, London W11 2EU
Words by Laura Rowe
Photos by Stuart Ovenden