Fiend in Notting Hill: “Risks that pay off” | restaurant review
May 27, 2022
Chris Denney’s journey is simply impressive. The head chef and founder of Fiend began his career working at The Square, Viajante and the three-star Michelin Italian restaurant Piazza Duomo before opening this Notting Hill restaurant; but Denney had previously experimented with running a kitchen in the area with 108 Garage, which sadly closed prematurely. It gave him space to experiment, and it certainly shows in Fiend’s menu. The place probably won’t catch the eye of those looking for familiar or comfort food, but it will appeal to those seeking adventurous dishes who dare to take risks (that pay off).
The restaurant is located at the end of Portobello Road in Notting Hill. Four tables welcome customers at the entrance, where the terrace is located, while a much larger space inside accommodates a bar, an open kitchen and two floors for dining. The space is elegantly decorated with bold artwork and neoclassical sculptures. The lower floor features a darker ambience, with velvet sofas and a more private setup, where visitors can enjoy a cocktail or a nice glass of wine from Fiend’s well-designed drinks menu. . Considering how unique and experimental Denney’s designs are, an interior that matched this vibe might have been better suited to the dining experience – perhaps a smaller space where people could see behind the scenes with a clearer view of the open kitchen; instead, tables are spaced out along the dining area, quite isolated from where the magic happens.
Speaking of menu, the Fiend’s cuisine is presented in two ways: a la carte and tasting. The former is implicitly divided into starters, main courses and side dishes, although it is intentionally ambiguous, not only on the classification of dishes into groups, but even on their naming. Opting for a six-course menu might be the best choice for any beginner, as it provides a more complete idea of the style of the restaurant. As we wanted to try as many dishes as possible, guided by the chef’s recommendations, we chose the latter and loved it. The ratio of portions to number of dishes was ideal.
A Duck leg with olives, perfectly glazed, was cooked to perfection and expertly topped with pistachio granola, accompanied by celeriac covered with thin slices of mushrooms. The Oshort rib agyu with diced tomatoes and shaved belper knolle was probably the best meat we have tasted in the last six months – a must try. We also particularly appreciated the care given to the simple things, such as the dressing (as well as the flavors, of course): Brioche with Chicken Liver Parfait was presented on a bed of buckwheat, and the BUrnt leekserved on a slice of tree trunk, was just beautiful.
The second biggest surprise of the afternoon was probably the dessert menu, which paid homage to classics like VSrme caramel but accompanied by conflicting flavors like rhubarb and marjoram in the form of sorbet. We also loved the PAnna Cotta with carrot sorbet and delicious VSrowanberry cucumbert with dill infused oil and mascarpone.
The cocktail menu is set up to showcase communal appetizers in an elegant and technically competent way. Fiend is big on martinis and expects diners to prioritize them over the rest of their drinks, so they shouldn’t be missed. Their wine list is extensive but well selected to complement their menu, including a fair amount of French, Austrian and Spanish wines.
We can confidently say that Chris Denney’s cooking is inspiring and very intriguing – a refreshing way to elevate what would otherwise be a predictable menu, with risque ingredient combinations and an unpretentious, authentic style.
Maria Dolores Barrios
Photos: Diogo Cruz
To book a table at The Fiend, 301 Portobello Road London W10 5TD, call 020 3971 8404 or visit their website here.