Don’t let the name discourage you – Scoff & Banter isn’t a rugby social club, filled with oversized men telling off-colour jokes.
Recently launched by Edwardian Group London as part of a drive to update its food and beverage offering, the restaurant is instead more of a bohemian, west London eatery.
Updated with reclaimed furniture and repurposed fittings, intricately detailed high ceilings in keeping with the listed building, and elegant yet welcoming bay windows, there is a buzz around the place, with guests mingling in what looks like pleasant conversation.
This makes a change from the stilted atmosphere of many hotel restaurants in the capital, where solitary diners stare mournfully out of the window ahead of the next conference session.
But that was all part of the plan.
This Cromwell Road location has been re-designed to encourage interaction and a sense of stylish comfort, with high sharing tables and a private dining room, perfect for intimate dinners, events and family gatherings.
Director of food and beverage, Russ Brown, who has launched various dining concepts for Edwardian Group London this year, told Breaking Travel News: “We’re really excited about this re-design.
“We want to welcome local people who want to meet for dinner, coffee or a catch up with the newspapers.
“As with our other restaurants, we’re focused on providing great food and wine list, with top-class service and expert chefs.
“This is the first of the Scoff & Banter offerings we’re re-launching and we’re looking forward to becoming a focal point for the neighbourhood.”
Arriving on a weekday evening close to opening, the ambition seems to have come to fruition.
Bustling bar staff will mix a stiff Wild Turkey Old Fashioned for £10, which is very reasonable in this part of town, and a sizable number of guests seem to be taking them up on the offer.
Moving into the main dining area, polite, discreet staff greet us and seat us by the fireplace – ideal for this time of year.
The menu matches the setting – drawing on British traditions but, as always these days, with a modern twist.
Robust and substantial, dishes run from poached river trout, and belly of pork, to pan seared wild bass, and lamb hock shepherd’s pie.
Designed to showcase British cuisine to an international clientele, there is nothing locals won’t have seen before here.
However, what is on offer is of the highest quality, making the best possible case for an oft derided culinary heritage.
Wines are largely drawn from France and the New World, beginning at close to £20 for a bottle of house white, and running up to a full bodied Château Talbot for over £100.
We order Barbers vintage cheddar and chive soufflé (made with hipster choice Meantime ale braised shallots) and mosaic of wild game terrine to begin, followed by rosemary butter basted veal chop, and the wild bass.
Courteous staff warn of a 20 minute wait on the fresh soufflé, so it’s a pleasant surprise when it arrives after ten. Light, puffy and creamy, it’s a delight, but not for the calorie conscious; the cheese oozes across the plate.
Served with cucumber, gin relish, and rye bread the terrine is less inspired by comparison, but adequately whets the appetite for what is to follow.
The pleasure in eating veal outweighs the guilt.
Renowned for its close, moist texture, served rare its pale light pink colour offers a delicate and subtle flavour.
Here, with a fried duck egg with black truffle butter, it’s brings a flourish of class, and will certainly be an experience for international diners looking for a taste of Britain.
The wild bass is accompanied by langoustines, crab, cider emulsion, warm mustard and spinach dumpling – quite a sight. Again, light, airy and presented searingly hot, it’s a refreshing take a on an established classic.
Iced vanilla parfait, champagne bramble jelly and caramel shards to share tops of the meal.
Leaving, it seems in offering new life to a beautiful old Vanderbilt family mansion, Scoff & Banter has fulfilled its intentions, bringing a quality take on British food to a discerning international clientele.
- Location: Cromwell Road, Kensington.
- Covers: 82 in the restaurant, 32 in the bar.
- Opening times: 07:00-01:00, seven days a week.
- Breakfast, lunch, dinner and bar menus available
- Set menu option – two courses for £25/three courses for £32.
- Seven different meat or fish options; three vegetarian options and an extensive wine list.
The restaurant and neighbouring Radisson Blu Edwardian, Vanderbilt hotel are located in a Grade II listed building, converted from ten 19th century town houses into a single site in the 1920s.
For more information the official website.