This week’s Best New Food Shop is not really a shop. It’s a deli counter in a private members’ club. We visited because we read in the trade press that the six-floor business-centric club was relaunching as Pavilion after a complete makeover, with a bar, restaurant, outdoor dining terrace and various services and facilities — including a deli with its own separate entrance. In fact, there’s a lovely florist at the entrance; and inside on the ground floor, the swish deli is to the left in a room dominated by a strikingly glamorous champagne bar in the centre. The good-sized deli counter encompasses fromagerie, charcuterie and pâtisserie, with a long, bar counter-style bench with comfy seats. As anyone can walk in, buy the food, and walk out again — you don’t need to be a club member, or sit down to eat and drink — it still qualifies, right?
Anyway, it’s not every day you get to buy your food in such plush surroundings. There are beautiful marble floors, elegant lamps and classical-style paintings on the walls. Sleek glass display cabinets run across marble deli counters, from which the enticingly laid out cheeses, meats, salads and pastries are clearly visible. Behind the counter are large shelves laden with assorted breads.
Chef Adam Simmonds, who hails from Danesfield House Hotel in Marlow and oversees the restaurant here, heads up the friendly deli team, too. He says: “Ninety-eight percent of the items are made on-site, and ninety-eight percent of the charcuterie is British.” Precise figures indeed.
First up is the cheese section, where around twenty-five English and continental varieties supplied by Premier Cheeses are divided into cow’s cheese such as brie de meaux, ewe’s cheese like berkswell, and goat’s cheese including cute little lollipop shapes dusted with paprika and edible ash, ideal for dinner parties. We were blown away by the fresh, lemony flavour of young goat’s cheese dusted with fennel pollen. Pavilion’s USP is that many of the cheeses are served with 'bespoke gourmet garnishes' — a novel idea that Simmonds has transported from Danesfield House, where he practised it on a smaller scale. The garnishes, Simmonds tells us, complement and enhance the flavour of the cheeses.
So maroilles cheese is adorned with rhubarb pieces, harbourne blue with hay-baked celeriac, and alchester sloe with Hendrick’s gin-infused cucumber. Pecorino allo zafferano is prettified with ‘compressed watermelon’, and crottin with lemon and fennel purée. Pistachio granola perks up taupiniere, and cocoa nibs with chilli oil livens up tovey. Comté served with ‘compressed pineapple’ is wonderfully mellow; and sweet hazelnut purée brings out the nuttiness of napoleon. Our absolute favourite is the exceptionally delicious pairing of fourme au maury blue cheese with pickled cherries and paper-thin slices of pickled turnips. We’ll never look at a piece of cheese in the same way again.
The garnishes are not only used with the cheeses though — they decorate own-made charcuterie too. So chunky piccalilli brightens up pâté de campagne, confit duck terrine (£6.50) comes with celeriac remoulade, and posh pork pies (£3.25) are bedecked with gold leaf and black truffle jelly. Additionally, chilli venison chorizo, mushroom salami, smoked duck breast and other meats have been “carefully curated” from Cannon & Cannon.
You can buy all these items to take home; or sit down and enjoy cheese and charcuterie platters and garnishes with a glass of sherry, wine or cocktail from the bar. The cheese platters are priced at £9.50 (choice of six cheeses), £12 (eight cheeses) and £15 (ten cheeses); and the charcuterie come in small (£3.50) or medium (£6.50) sized plates. There’s also a salad bar from which you can select five ingredients to make up a platter. Choose from cucumber pearls, peppers stuffed with feta, petit lucques olives, chopped sunblushed tomatoes, mustard dressing, hazelnut dressing and more. The salads can be served with bread (gluten-free, if you like); and the wide selection includes chestnut bread (£1.80) not easily available in London, walnut countryside bread (£2.40), and sundried tomato and gruyère fougasse (£2.80).
Like the breads, the cakes and pastries are freshly baked by Simmonds and his team every morning. The tempting selection ranges from rich croissants and apple danish, to healthier raspberry and yoghurt muffins, plus ones flecked with finely minced courgettes and carrots. Additionally, meat-aging fridges, a ham carving machine in the window and a big, slick coffee machine go some way towards giving a shop-like feel to the shop-that’s-not-quite-a-shop.
Pavilion, 96 Kensington High Street, W8 4SG. Tel: 020 7221 2000.
Note: businesses featured in this series are chosen editorially, and not as part of a promotion.