They may have said we were lucky to avoid a visit from the so-called Beast from the East but in my opinion it’s still been exceptionally cold this winter which gave me the perfect excuse to seek out some homely, heartwarming, comfort food at Bumpkin in South Kensington. Bumpkin’s three outposts – in Notting Hill, South Kensington and Westfield Stratford City – have served up a taste of the country life to hardened Londoners from 2006, 2009 and 2011, respectively. Part of the Ignite Group, which also owns Chelsea-based nightclub, Boujis, and Eclipse cocktail bars, it’s rumoured Bumpkin will expand to boast 20 venues across the UK within the next five years.
The South Kensington restaurant has a small bar area and a large dining room. Chintz-inspired wallpaper lines the walls, the relatively open kitchen has gorgeous bright green tiles – the kind you’d see in a luxurious farmhouse home – all sorts of odd pots and vases filled with lavender, flowers and greenery sit on rather rough and ready wooden tables. In fact, when I sat down, I realised my chair was rather wobbly and having gorged somewhat excessively this year I was slightly concerned it may give way at any time! Thankfully, I was spared any embarrassment on this occasion.
The waiting staff were incredibly friendly and most importantly, very enthusiastic about the food, reeling off the specials with a particular joie de vivre. My dining companion ordered the West Coast crayfish cocktail with Virgin Mary dressing; while I opted for halibut with beetroot and clementines which was one of the day’s specials. The crayfish cocktail was excellent, with fabulous fresh flavours and a spicy kick courtesy of the Virgin Mary dressing. My halibut was abundant in portion and had a superb smoky flavour and delicate texture. The beetroot purée gave the dish a bold flavour, while the clementine portions provided a superb sweetness. I would have liked to have seen more beetroot on the plate and perhaps with varying textures of pieces or even beetroot crisps but on the whole the dish was very pleasant.
When it came to main there was no doubt we wanted something to warm our cockles as it were. My fellow culinary adventurer ordered slow roasted pork belly with celeriac apple sauce, roasted carrot and onion. Despite not being a pie person, I decided that the charter pie with chicken, leek, mushrooms and ham hock was exactly what I needed on the positively arctic night. The pork was fantastic with plenty of great crackling but I think my pie was the overall winning dish of the night. The sauce was creamy, the pastry perfectly flaky and golden, the chicken tender, the ham hock slightly salty and the wild mushrooms earthy and rich. This pie made me want to revisit Bumpkin just to try out the other two pies (fish and beef) on the menu. I have a feeling they’d be just as incredible.
Dessert was OK but I can’t honestly say it was outstanding. I wanted the creamy egg custard tart with nutmeg and a jar of rhubarb and custard ice cream. The tart came not as an individual tart but as a slice which was not terribly attractive. Nevertheless, the consistency of the custard was excellent. For my personal taste I’d have liked more nutmeg but I’m a bit of a nutmeg fiend. My dining partner is equally obsessed about Cherry Bakewells. The portion was very generous but according to the supposed Bakewell expert the jam needed more zing.
Bumpkin is a charming venue, the sort of place you can take your parents and they won’t be overwhelmed by the creations on the menu. It’s certainly the sort of place that you get what you expect. Overall the meal was satisfying and the venue a little haven of countryside chic.
Bumpkin 102 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington, London SW7 3RD
Tel: 020 7341 0802