So what can you tell us about Parabola?
It's the new main restaurant of the BIG new Design Museum in Kensington. The museum recently moved from its former South Bank setting into the large building that used to hold the Commonwealth Instutute after a pretty huge revamp. The restaurant itself comes from Prescott and Conran, the people behind Albion and Boundary, but it's doing something rather different from your traditional museum restaurant.
So what's it doing differently?
Mainly, it sees some top chefs coming in for long residencies, where they take over the menu for a period of time - with Parabola's kitchen leading things. So, first up we have Rowley Leigh take over the reins and next up will be Valentine Warner.
And there's more?
On top of the longer term residencies, they've been amassing some pretty special names in the kitchen too. Recently, they've had Shaun Hill, Marianne Lumb and a Parisian pop-up. We popped along to one of the final events which saw a menu by none other than Sir Terence Conran himself.
Was Sir Terence in the kitchen?
He was at the event, but not in the kitchen. He had created the menu with his wife Lady Vicki Conran and left things under the charge of the Parabola Head Chef, Graham Blower.
And what was Sir Terence's nosh like?
As with his other restaurants, be it Albion or Boundary, it's a very British affair - pies, terrines and more. And, we have to say, very capably delivered indeed by the kitchen team at Parabola, who are clearly a very talented bunch. Top dishes of the night were:
- The baked Oysters Rockefeller - at least partly because the sauce was perfect for mopping up with the bread
- The jellied ham with celeriac remoulade - essentially a ham terrine, but WHAT a terrine. So delicate that we couldn't work out how they sliced it so neatly
- And the pies, of course. Albion already does cracking pies and these were a step up from that. A fish pie is an incredibly comforting dish at the best of times, and the beef cheek pie had glorious pastry
So the menu was great, perfect comfort food, but as we've mentioned, it really showed the expertise in the kitchen.
How about drinks?
The bar has a cocktail list that's primarily based around classics. We think the idea is good, but they need to work on sourcing better ingredients for the mixers.
The wine list is where it's really at. We were particularly impressed with their sommelier, who treads well the fine line between being informative about the wine but without the need to over explain. He pointed us well throughout the evening - and we've left with a better understanding of the difference between classic red wines and the low intervention method (we still prefer the former, mind). So ultimately, we think you should definitely let him guide you.
And how about the place itself?
The new Design Museum is clearly a very impressive makeover of an already impressive space. The restaurant has prime position at the top and you'll want one of the small booths overlooking the front if you can get them. One recommendation we'd have for the restaurant is to work on getting some music into the space. We think it's one of the missing ingredients at the moment, particularly when the rest of the museum has cleared out.
If you're visiting the museum anyway, we think the kitchen's doing very good things and you should leave yourself some time to pop in. And it's definitely worth keeping an eye out for future pop-ups and residencies. We've had some early indications as to who's appearing in the future and it sounds like a pretty special list. One to watch.
Parabola is at The Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, London W8 6AG. Find out more about Parabola.