Portobello Gold is a Notting Hill institution, a chic boutique hotel with a restaurant and a busy internet coffee house on the ground floor. Locals were dismayed to see the place ravaged by fire in 2004 but rebuilding was swift and the hotel is now re-born. Eccentric touches like the mini golf course on the roof have been retained, and the interior is now gleaming. We returned to an old haunt to see if the new smart premises had retained their bohemian charm. It was a delightful meal.
A word about the service. As reviewers we tend to sneak in and quietly eat a meal for two, but this time we descended in a chaotic bunch, with five diners arriving in staggered stages from a boozy art show round the corner. Our waitress was not only extremely charming but coped admirably with food orders shuffling in one at a time. We were captivated by her relaxed but efficient manner and she made us feel right at home.
The food is also homely - which is to say, it resembles extremely good home cooking, arriving in huge, steaming portions and seasoned with basic but excellent sauces that were delicious, and comforting. House wines are robust, tasty and very fairly priced. For an expensive boutique location, this is an affordable place.
Seafood is a specialty and the oysters and calamari were both popular with our party as starters. A vast plate of moules marinieres was among some excellent mains, and our most voracious budding art critic slurped his way through 'The Boss's Seafood Broth', pronouncing it 'brilliant'. My veal cutlets were unusually thick but perfectly cooked and, accompanied with some lovely roasted veg, perhaps the most homely and filling of all the meals.
With plenty of wine and a few chocolate-laden desserts the bill was under twenty pounds each - extraordinary for this corner of Notting Hill.
Good news for West London. The new Portobello Gold is just as lively, off-the-wall and well catered as the old. Their kitchen is still turning out satisfyingly rich and delicious fare (which varies 'according to the Zodiac') and it's still a really cool place. We left feeling well fed, and well treated, and pronouncing the evening a triumph as we dispersed into the night.