Test Driving Joy at Stevie Parle's Kensal Rise popup Flora

Flora pop up restaurant Kensal Rise reviewThe sun-kissed alfresco dining spot that is Flora. (With handy umbrellas too, because of the normal English weather.)

So what do we need to know about Joy?

It's a summer pop up orchestrated by restaurateur Stevie Parle at Portobello Dock.

Wait, wasn't that where he used to have his restaurant Dock Kitchen?

It was. They've taken back the same space, turning it into an alfresco restaurant and bar. What used to be the inside dining room is now a grocery store with gorgeous goodies from Canterbury's The Goods Shed farmers market. It's three years since The Dock Kitchen closed and, as Stevie told us, it's weird to be back in the same space "but good weird".

Where exactly is it?

If you haven't been before, the entrance is on the south side of the canal - where Ladbroke Grove crosses the Grand Union Canal. It's a short walk from any tube stop, but Kensal Rise overground is probably the easiest (if you're actually taking public transport).

Where should we meet friends for a drink first? 

The easiest place is here. From today (11 August) they're opening a standalone spritz bar (also alfresco) at the entrance to the restaurant. Other handy places nearby are Paradise by Way of Kensal Green and Parlour.

What sort of Covid safety measures are they taking?

Apart from the whole restaurant being outside? Well, there are santisers at the entrance and on all the tables. The menus are all accessed by scanning a QR code and reading on your phone and all the staff are wearing masks. They all seemed very on-it to us.

So what's on the menu?

They say they're serving up "hyper-seasonal, beautifully simple summer food". Expect the menu to change regularly as a result. Here's what we had on the night:

Flora pop up restaurant Kensal Rise reviewCod's Roe with super-fresh, raw, spray-free vegetables from The Goods Shed (£10)

Flora pop up restaurant Kensal Rise reviewClams cooked with butter, guanciale, fino & fresh peas (£14)

Flora pop up restaurant Kensal Rise reviewFosse Meadows Chicken cooked over wood stuffed with ricotta, sourdough toast (£15)

Flora pop up restaurant Kensal Rise review"Lockdown" lobster grilled with lardo and rosemary (£30) - the smoke, the sweetness of the lobster and the umami hit of the lardo. A three-in-one hit.

Room for dessert?

Abcolutely. Particularly when it includes dishes like these...

Flora pop up restaurant Kensal Rise reviewStrawberries, cream, meringue, dahlia (£7)

Flora pop up restaurant Kensal Rise reviewAmerican cherry pie and cream (£7) - fresh cherries will be around for a few weeks more, so order this while you can. There should always be a seasonal pie on the menu, though. 

What kind of options are there for vegetarians?

Loads, including the Vegan “meat” balls from Neil Rankin's Symplicity foods, served with borlotti beans, courgette, chopped rocket and tomato along with a refreshing-sounding Watermelon, feta, fresh chilli and mint salad to start.

There's also this great side.

Flora pop up restaurant Kensal Rise reviewSlow-cooked courgettes (£5). Just wonderful - a don't miss side-dish. 

And to drink?

There's a refreshingly short list of beers, wines and cocktails. We started out with two very decent margaritas (£10) - all the better for someone else making them. And we followed that with a lovely bottle of natural Gruner Veltliner from Wimmer-Czerzny (£39). You could enjoy a glass of house wine for just £4.50 or treat yourself to a bottle of Burgundy for £72.

Anything else?

One final note - don't forget to bring your shopping bag so you can stock up on amazing produce and wine as you leave.

Overall thoughts:

On the evening we turned up at the Portobello Dock, we ran into quite a few folk we knew who were also dining. The combination of great food in a dreamy setting by the canal alongside saying hello to friends we hadn't seen in months that made this such a super night. A definite summer hit and it really is a joy to see Stevie Parle back here. 

Flora pop up restaurant Kensal Rise reviewThe restaurant at night - lovely summery vibes.


More about JOY

Where is it? Portobello Dock, 344 Ladbroke Grove, London W10 5BU

When? Runs until at least 30 September 2020

How to book: On the website

Find out more: Follow Stevie Parle on Instagram @stevieparle.

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Joy. Prices are correct at the time of writing.


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