Both multicultural and affluent, the London district of Bayswater is home to a diverse mix of restaurants serving up their own distinct takes on ethnic cuisine.
Situated in the capital’s northwest reaches and known for the pristine green expanse of Kensington Gardens and the Serpentine Gallery, Bayswater combines the leafiness of an upscale suburb with the grand architecture of a historic urban centre. At the heart of the area’s culinary scene is busy Queensway Road, but dotted across the district are both casual and formal eateries that are well worth a try. Here are 10 of the best.
A recent addition to Bayswater’s foodie landscape, following the success of the original Ceru in South Kensington, this relaxed bistro serves up delicious food from the Levant with a firm nod to the Mediterranean. A mezze-style menu revolves around small shading dishes, with veggie and meat options aplenty. For the former, try the sticky roasted baby aubergines with date syrup and tamari dressing, or the portobello mushrooms topped with spices, pistachios and tahini labneh. For the latter, the slow-roasted lamb shoulder with a pomegranate sauce, mint and pistachio receives rave reviews. As for the décor, pristine wooden tables, banquettes, stools at the bar and around the semi-open kitchen, and even a screened area for cocktails all lend the restaurant a sense of warmth and intimacy.
There’s oft-repeated truism that you know a good ethnic eatery when it’s full of people of that same heritage – and this is certainly the case when it comes to this legendary Chinese restaurant slap bang on Queensway. Laying claim to having invented the noodle and lobster dish that has now been imported around the world, the restaurant is primarily known for its seafood and exotic fish sold at seasonal prices. And while the neon red lights of the exterior signage may suggest something a little on the kitsch awaits inside, you may well be surprised to discover a stylish and contemporary wave-like ceiling structure inspired by the provenance of much of the food that’s served here. But fear not, for those with a taste for 1980s nostalgia, there’s the obligatory fish tank (for viewing purposes only) in the waiting area and toffee apples for dessert.
Consort House, 14-16 Queensway
After opening its doors more than 40 years ago, this big and bustling curry house has become pretty much the dictionary definition of an “institution”. Still run by the same family as when it was founded, headed by the eponymous Mr Khan, the no-frills restaurant has continued to attract a steady stream of loyal patrons, as well as a regular smattering of new-comers, down the years thanks to the enduring quality of its dishes, together with a friendly and welcoming front-of-house team. In the main dining room featuring distinctive palm-tree pillars, waiters serve up a conveyor belt of authentic Indian cuisine. With so many new-fangled Indian restaurants popping up in recent years specialising in fusion food and modern twists, the continued success of restaurants like Khan’s should be a relief to us all.
13-15 Westbourne Grove
Part of an upbeat French-rotisserie chain, the Notting Hill branch of Cocotte, just east of Bayswater, has added to the farm-to-table restaurant concept’s growing fan club, who come in their droves to enjoy heart-warming, home-made dishes and delectable sides. A rustic corner spot, it’s best known for its spit-roast chicken dishes, made with free-range chickens, exclusively sourced from the gastronomic region of Pays de la Loire in Western France. Accompanying the heart-pounding poulet, side dishes not to be missed include the truffle mash and root veggies, as well as fries and salads.
95 Westbourne Grove
A treasure trove of authentic Iranian cuisine, Alounak has been a staple of the Bayswater restaurant scene for over two decades – and it’s easy to see why. Buzzing on every night of the week with diners perched at smart wooden tables, surrounded by glowing lanterns, the kitchen serves up traditional Persian dishes in a relaxed setting. Daily specials include the chelo khoresh b adjeman, a lamb casserole with fried aubergine, or try the minced lamb served with spicy jalapeno salad and saffron rice. There’s a BYO drink policy and if you’re keen to avoid the queues, visiting mid-afternoon will often do the trick.
44 Westbourne Grove
Set inside a no-frills indoor market, this tiny, minimalist Malaysian café has gained a dedicated following thanks to its high-quality and exceptionally good-value southeast Asian fare. Helmed by eponymous owner, Normah Abd Hamid, who was inspired to open her own restaurant by a childhood surrounded by great food, the menu is centred around traditional Malaysian home-cooked cuisine, making use of seasonal ingredients including their own in-house pastes such as Assam Pedas, Rendang, Curry Laksa and other flavoursome favourites. Among the most popular dishes here are the beef rending and mee goreng – the latter stir fried egg noodles cooked with fresh king prawns.
Queensway Market, Normah’s 23-25 Queensway
Amid a sea of international cuisine, this trendy, bohemian eatery reminds us that provenance can also begin at home. Capitalising on the growing popularity of vegan diets, the ‘sun to soil’ venture features an ever-changing menu of seasonal plant-based specialities made with ingredients sourced from a biodynamic farm in Kent – just a 100 or so miles away. And it’s not just the provenance of the food that’s notable here, but of the restaurant’s founder, Camilla Fayed, too, daughter of former Harrods owner, Mohamed Al-Fayed. Menu highlights include the buckwheat pancakes, falafel, and vegetable curry. The venue is also a popular spot with remote workers, and there’s even a dedicated meeting room.
74-76 Westbourne Grove
If you’re hungry and looking for ‘quirky’ in the Bayswater area, this small and fun-filled dining space certainly fits the bill. Owned by the Gladwin family as part of their ‘Local & Wild’ brand that has seen several other London openings in recent years, the restaurant serves a diverse selection of creative and contemporary dishes using sustainably sourced produce that’s either foraged or gleaned from the family’s very own farm in Sussex. They’re also at the vanguard of the burgeoning trend for English wines, offering a range of award-winning home-grown plonk hailing from a Sussex vineyard, Nutbourne, that’s also their own.
122 Palace Gardens Terrace
Acclaimed chef Tom Pemberton never disappoints with his modern, robust but simple British cooking at this small neighbourhood restaurant, which became the buzz of the town after opening in 2007. Housed in a smartly-converted former butcher’s shop, the laid-back eatery specialises in delicious British food including native lamb, pork, beef and duck, all serving to showcase the great wealth of our national produce and all at affordable prices, too. If you try anything, make sure it’s the Blythburgh pork chop served with roast potatoes, parsnips, greens and apple sauce – though the pot roast duck leg and fennel runs it close.
3 Hereford Road
No list of restaurant recommendations can truly be complete without the inclusion of at least one joint where you can get a really great pizza – and in Bayswater, for this purpose look no further than Assaggi. Made with seasonal toppings – think truffles in winter and English asparagus with San Daniele ham in summer – their dough-based offerings, together with a broad menu of other authentic Italian dishes, help draw large crowds throughout the year who come to congregate in the colourful dining room complete with atmospheric fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows. After dinner, head upstairs to the cocktail bar to keep the good times rolling.
First Floor, 39 Chepstow Place