Paradise By Way of Kensal Green: Gastropub with a Difference

This quirky, atmospheric and hugely original pub has long been part of the cool, arty Kensal Green and Notting Hill community. Notable for its strong musical history (from The Clash in the 80s to upcoming bands like I Blame Coco today), the boho-chic institution is not only Kensal Green’s central party scene -with top DJs, burlesque, cabaret and comedy nights- but also a magnet for London’s foodies, having reinvented its cuisine over the past few years to appeal to more sophisticated palates.

Built in 1892 and borrowing its name from a GK Chesterton’s poem referencing the nearby cemetery (“For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen, Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green”), this atmospheric pub -comprising a front bar section, dining room, an outside terrace and three event spaces- has long been the pride and joy of Kensal Green, attracting the arty and creative crowd that populates the area. For there aren’t many pubs that look like the former coach inn, which design -with its candle lit rooms, artfully peeled wood-panelled walls, statues of angels, Victorian portraits, hanging bird cages and theatrical chandeliers-conveys the atmosphere of a sexy vampire movie, combined with a definite party vibe.

And while its quirky decor and its reputation for good music -with former performances including The Clash and Ronnie Wood from the Rolling Stones- have always been big draws, its revamp over the past few years, courtesy of new owners Steve Ball and Riz Shaikh, has given the place a new lease of life. The design, maintained in spirit, has been noticeably glamorised, while the new management has made huge efforts to turn the pub into a multi-parties venue, complete with comedy nights, burlesque acts, cabaret and karaoke, and a progressive but accessible music program which includes some of London’s hottest DJs as well as rising stars like Coco Sumner (Sting’s daughter and lead singer of band I Blame Coco), due to perform on the 14th of September.

Its dining room has also been given a complete makeover, under the guidance of chef Tim Payne, who worked extensively with Marco Pierre White both in the kitchen and as executive chef and on ITV’ Hell’s Kitchen, as well as head chef at Michelin-stared restaurants Quo Vadis, Mirabelle, Belvedere and The Criterion. The menu -which includes dishes such as lasagne of Cromer crab, Cornish samphire & pink grapefruit, as well as roasted saddle of Lonk lamb, baby violet artichokes, fennel marmalade, tomato and black olive jus- definitely places Paradise above the usual pub offering, including in its gastro version. Which makes the place a little paradise indeed, for both gourmets and partygoers…

Paradise by Way of Kensal Green: 19 Kilburn Lane W10 (Kensal Green) Tel: 020 8969