Everyone always raves about Notting Hill, but I've never really understood its appeal: from the chaos and crowds of Notting Hill Carnival (someone invariably gets their phone nicked and the tube ride home is a nightmare...) to the tourist trap that is Portobello Market, it's always failed to live up to my expectations.
However, last weekend, venturing west-ways to meet a friend for brunch, I saw a side to Notting Hill which caused me to reconsider. My cycle there (passing through St James' Park, Green Park, and Hyde Park) was beautiful even in the January drizzle, and our walk from Notting Hill Gate to the cafe - passing from quiet mansion-lined streets to the fashionable boutiques and stylish eateries of Westbourne Grove - was lovely.
We had been intending to go to Granger & Co, but, passing by the window, were drawn into 202 instead. In this stylish Nicole Farhi venue, diners share the ground floor with a collection of books and home-ware, while the basement - glimpsed en route to the toilets - is home to a chic clothing boutique.
We were there to eat, not shop, so we side-stepped the tempting retail displays and seated ourselves at a table for two in a bright spot near the back of the restaurant. The breakfast menu was pretty comprehensive, ranging from sweet (porridge with caramelised banana, golden raisins & honey; buttermilk & ricotta pancakes with fruit compote) to savoury (kedgeree with poached eggs; sweet potato, pepper, chorizo and pancetta hash), and featuring brunch favourites such as french toast with bacon and eggs Benedict.
I went for the full English breakfast, which consisted of a slice of crisp buttered sourdough, topped with fried eggs and accompanied by a tangle of crispy bacon, roasted vine tomatoes, a juicy over-sized mushroom, and a fantastic sausauge. I don't normally like sausages (and would in fact have swapped it for extra bacon, had the waiter not given his personal guarantee of its tastiness!) but it turned out to be the highlight of my meal: plump and meaty, with a satisfyingly crisp skin, and a pleasant hint of spice.
I love this tetsubin teapot...
Shop while you eat
All-in-all, it was a lovely breakfast - and while we didn't buy anything, it was nice to have a browse on our way out. Having been converted to the joys of Notting Hill, I'll be coming back this way soon (hopefully on a slightly sunnier day) to try out Granger & Co...