With the clocks going back and the nights drawing in earlier, Simon Wittenberg heads to Como Garden, the cosy Italian eatery on London’s Kensington High Street, for dinner.
Como Garden was opened at the end of 2020 amidst the pandemic by the Zandi twins (below), a pair who also own the Latin American-themed Zuaya eatery next door (unveiled in 2018), Riviera that we reviewed earlier this year, and the Spanish El Norte restaurant in Mayfair.
Como Garden, which has an inviting red frontage, is located on the bustling Kensington High Street, so it is well-situated to grab the attention of hungry passers-by. It’s equally in good company, thanks to being surrounded by luxury hotels, such as The Milestone and Baglioni Hotel London, whilst the Royal Albert Hall is just half a mile away.
Como Garden combines the most popular dishes from across the different regions in Italy, presented in a design setting that has been inspired by the glorious gardens of Lake Como in Italy.
The result is a dimly lit, romantic, and intimate setting, with foliage lining the walls, low-hanging decorative lampshades, and a “realistic” ornamental olive tree in the centre, where we sat on a comfy circular banquette amongst the branches.
It’s essentially a tapas-style menu that’s served at this restaurant – which is, of course, more akin to what you would find in Spain. Therefore, there’s no series of substantial dishes that you would readily come across on an à la carte.
The dinner menu is not extensive, but there’s a good choice of white, red and rosé wine varieties for those who like to accompany their meal with a glass or two, whilst the bar is also lined with a good array of spirits for visitors seeking a pre-or post-dinner tipple.
Alternatively, there are a couple of refreshing and thirst-quenching mocktails to enjoy, which we decided to try. There’s either the “Prima dell’ Alba” (£11.50), made from blackberries, apple, cranberry, and lime juice, with a hint of grenadine, or the “Bianco Tropicale” (£10.50), concocted from coconut cream, lychee and lime juice, with a hint of passion fruit syrup.
To start proceedings, we went straight for the “Fish and Seafood” section, and I tucked into a salmon and avocado tartare (£14) decorated with crispy fried onion, which was full of flavour, with the ingredients meshing beautifully together, whilst my guest opened his meal with some fried calamari and parsley aioli (£13.75), which was just as impressive.
Other options from this area of the menu include tuna tartare and garlic king prawns.
Next to arrive, also from the marine section of the à la carte, was a fillet of pan-seared wild seabass (£22), presented on a bed of rich tomato sauce encompassing tangy capers and cherry tomatoes, which combined perfectly with the moist fish and crispy skin layer.
My dining partner opted for a carnivorous course in the form of an already-sliced medium-rare grilled dry-aged sirloin steak (£27) that came with a small side of roast potatoes (£6.50), whilst we also shared a portion of oven-cooked fries (£5.50) to make this stage of the meal a little more substantial.
With this being an Italian, we could not resist trying one of this country’s core staples in the form of the Parmesan cheese pizza garnished with generous slices of what can only described as al dente black truffle, which had a slightly raw edge to them.
It also arrived with quite a heavily flour-coated base (£27) and was pleasant enough; plus, it had been carefully divided into square pieces so that my guest and I were each able to partake in this “main” before getting on to the subject of dessert.
For those who have saved enough space, there’s a choice of five desserts (“Dolci”) to finish, spanning artisan Italian ice cream to homemade dough balls with chocolate sauce.
I opted for the nicely concocted and silky-smooth Tiramisu (£8) decorated with coffee beans for an added element of crunch, and it has to be said that this dessert was on the generous side and was actually too nice to share!
My guest decided on a very large slice of Como Garden’s layered lemon meringue tart (£12), which was absolutely delicious but near impossible to finish thanks to its size. It’s definitely a value-for-money sweet and the perfect way to wrap up an enjoyable evening.
At Como Garden, it’s evident that there’s talent in spades (excuse the pun), as the dishes served here are beautifully prepared, with fresh ingredients that deliver a memorable meal. This restaurant also provides an element of “escapism”, as it’s easy to imagine sitting on the scenic shores of Lake Como for a couple of hours.
The service is friendly and relatively swift, so you’re never waiting too long for something to arrive, in line with this eatery’s mantra of food being served as soon as it’s ready.
This philosophy, of course, works when it’s a sharing format because everyone will always eat at the same time if you have the same dietary preferences. All in all, it was an excellent meal, and the Zandi brothers have certainly done enough to capture the attention of Kensington residents and visitors.
Como Garden – Where and How?
Como Garden is located at 37-45 Kensington High Street, London W8 5ED, United Kingdom.
For more information or to make a reservation, visit https://comogarden.co.uk.
See a video of what we had to eat at Como Garden on the Luxurious Magazine Instagram page.