This Might Be The Best Al Fresco Drinking Spot In Kensington
Holland Street, W8, is somewhere you might never end up, unless you live or work in Kensington. Which is a shame. Neighbouring Kensington Church Street and Kensington High Street, but less blingy and shopping-centric than either, it's a quiet and mostly residential thoroughfare, with a handful of scattered businesses breaking up the wrought iron and leafy-gardened mansions.
That's the view Chakra's small terrace looks out onto, with a home-porch-in-a-hot-country feel via woven chairs, geometric tiling and potted shrubs. Service is friendly, cocktails are delicate, well-balanced and steepish, but in an average-for-Kensington way.
So there's tons going for it on the al fresco front. On the food front, it's more of a mixed bag, though with some big hitters: the fried okra are thin, beautifully crisp and nudging just up against the limits of how much salt you can put in your mouth without crying — phenomenal as an aperitivo snack to pad out your beer or cocktail. And the Punjabi samosas with chickpeas and tamarind are surprise powerhouses of crunch and richness, soaked in thick sauce and oily in all the best ways.
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Other parts are underwhelming: the Curry Patta Burrata's dusting of spice blend sounding glorious, but arriving too cold for any of the creamy burrata ooze or curry leaf warmth to come through, and the monkfish tikka oddly bland.
Treated as a drinking spot, though, an Indian twist on an aperitivo hour, it still works. The service is brilliantly friendly while also pretty slow, minutes stretching towards an hour between finishing starters and mains arriving, twenty minutes between ordering poppadums and the actual poppadums. But for drinks and barsnacks that sort of leisureliness feels like a bonus, an assurance that you're welcome as long as you care to embed for.
Chakra, 33C Holland Street, W8 4LX.
Last Updated 30 July 2018