A friend once said the she could 'never trust a man with two surnames', which given my name, could be construed as an insult.
Chef Jesse Dunford Wood also has two surnames and an indie band attitude to boot, but after visiting his glorious Parlour in Kensal Rise, I’m sure you can trust him.
The Parlour used to be a traditional old boozer called the Regent, which was a place where youngsters went to get very drunk and very rowdy. Dunford Wood has turned it into a much hipper affair — red leather sofas, refectory chairs, mix and match vintage furniture, white subway tile walls, and lots of gorgeous props scattered throughout both bars. It has a great garden bar as well, for the summer months, and sort of felt like stumbling across a slice of New York in the suburbs.
We were invited to the chef’s table, which seats seven and affords a great view of the kitchen, where we marvelled at the way that the team worked quietly, efficiently, and harmoniously. No Gordon Ramsay-style tantrums in that kitchen. Jesse had told we were in for a treat, and the Chef’s table extravaganza began. Chestnut Hummus with Rosemary Pitta Bread; McTucky’s Popcorn Chicken Nuggets; Funky French Radishes with English Butter; DIY Pheasant Eggs with Celery Salt; Blue Cheese ‘Custard’ with Lots of Bits to Dip; Raw Vegetable ‘Ravioli’ with Goats’ Cheese; ‘Back Door’ Smoked Salmon and Soda Bread; Duck Liver Pate, Cold Toast and Marmalade. And these are just the ones that I can remember.
It was hard to say what was best as they were all simply delicious. The mains were a beautiful dish of Trout, Samphire, Asparagus and Seaweed, and his famous ‘cow’ pie. The Northerner, who knows a thing or two about pies, declared the latter the best she had ever tasted. All these courses built nicely to the pièce de résistance, which was the dessert serving. I won’t give too much away, but there’s music and some tin foil that serves as a canvas to the former art student Dunford Wood’s creative side. In terms of taste, the desserts weren’t as good as the mains, but that’s because they were simply divine. In terms of spectacle, the dessert course was the most fun part of any meal I’ve had in a very long time.
The Parlour’s ‘backing band’ of waiting and bar staff provides great service to complement Dunford Wood’s charismatic lead singer role. The afternoon felt like an experience, rather than just another lunch. The Parlour is one place that if it isn’t already, deserves to be a must-try for London’s foodie community. You can trust me on that.
5 Regent St
London NW10 5LG
+44 20 8969 2184