Address: 275 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 9JA
Phone: 020 7835 2167
Old Brompton Road has some of the most famous bars and night spots in Kensington dotted along its serpentine length, but it’s felt stagnant for a while now. That’s why the appearance of a rather unusually named restaurant and lounge bar, The Gojk (on the West Brompton station side) is a welcome shake up. For those curious about what a Gojk is when it’s at home, the restaurant caters an extensive selection of what can probably be termed European Fusion: venison rubs haunches with gravdlax in a menu that feels carefully curated rather than the (sadly not infrequent) buzz-hungry tokenism of concept restaurants. Before we got to sample The Gojk’s culinary ‘ever closer union’ of Europe’s various cuisines however, we assuaged our thirst in the downstairs lounge bar.
The ‘lounge bar’ welded onto a restaurant has become something of a West London (or even London-wide) staple and this close to Knightsbridge tend to resemble miniature nightclubs as much anything else. The Gojk’s own example manages to stand out through an unusually creative cocktail menu. The restaurant’s founder, Simeon Gojkovic originally made his name in the cocktail world and has tweaked and refined the classics into an intimidatingly potent selection. I elected to try the Corn and Oil, which was a bold mixture of El Dorado 12-year-old rum, angostura bitters and lime juice, reputedly Al Capone’s favourite cocktail. Perhaps unsurprisingly the flavour was uncompromisingly strong but went down smoother and smoother until I was desultorily swirling my empty glass to check if I’d somehow missed some. My girlfriend (who could give any femme fatale a run for their money) sprang for the suitably named Black Widow, a devilish mixture of blackberries and basil and tequila went down so easily that it’s easy to miss that it has more than enough alcoholic kick to unravel the unwary. Finally (otherwise there might have been a significant danger of agitating for a lock in) we reluctantly finished with the Presso 43 Martini: chilled espresso with Licor 43 shaken together with Citrus Vodka and garnished with dark chocolate shards. Hopefully this particular twist on the Espresso Martini will not spread further than the Gojk, as it’s so eminently drinkable that it could possibly cause the collapse of Western civilisation. Gojkovic has created the cocktail equivalent of a WMD.
Returning to the restaurant suitably stimulated, we were guided through the menu by the Gojk’s two chefs Adrian Pardavila and Pilar Togores who brimmed with suggestions for our food and wine. Deciding to leave ourselves entirely within their hands, we soon found ourselves in front of an inviting mound of Alaskan Scallops (£17.50) grilled on a bed of cauliflower and served with potato mousseline and balsamic vinaigrette. The scallops were juicy, succulent and practically evaporated in the mouth instead of melting, whilst the potato mousseline provided a light and fluffy bed to hoover up afterwards. Whilst admittedly it’s an unusually broad description of Europe that includes Alaska, the dish was delectable enough (and generous with its portion, it’s easy to imagine a date foundering as both participants fight to the death over the last scallop) to ignore the odd geographical anomaly. Continuing with the aquatic theme we tucked into a selection of king prawns prepared in sake; which was gave the tender flesh a tart and refreshing twist. In addition the prawns were served alongside thin sliced mushrooms which possessed an unusual sweetness to them, enough to overcame my usual mild distrust of mushrooms (they know what they did). It was compulsively moreish, but for me it didn’t quite compare to the scallops, however my girlfriend was completely sold on it and, complimented by a crisp Chilean chardonnay, it was a delicious palate cleanser for the main event.
I am resolutely, borderline religiously, not a vegetarian, so immediately perked up when I saw the groaning platters of meat being laid before us. Whilst the Angus Rib Eye with cassava chips & assorted homemade sauces (£19.75) would normally have had my full attention and was in fact flavourful in the extreme, I couldn’t help but be grabbed by the Roasted Duck Breast (£19.50) with Cassava pure, caramelised red cabbage, apple and pine nuts, rose and cloves sauce.
It’s rare to find duck (justifiably) priced the same as steak, but this caramelised canard was unarguably worth the extra scratch. Flavourful and heartbreakingly tender it was the crown jewel in the entire meal and grabbed my attention to the point where I could barely focus on the steak, which in any other circumstance would have been a highpoint all on its own. Though we were already stuffed, buoyed by an alarmingly drinkable Rieseling, we elected to forge on to desert (who says there are no more heroes?) and were presented with the Dark Guanaja Chocolate cream, Tonka bean and red berries (£5.75) which was a perfectly serviceable capper to our meal but after the previous two courses felt somehow a tiny bit lacking.
Old Brompton Road has been hurting for a restaurant cum hangout spot for a while and particularly now that *crosses self* we seem to have left winter behind us, The Gojk which comes equipped with a garden for summer sun seekers alongside an obviously dedicated team seem like the perfect cure. Highly recommended.
Tuesday to Thursday: Lunch 12:30pm to 14:30pm
Dinner 18:00pm to 21:00pm
Friday and Saturday: Lunch 12:30pm to 15:00pm
Dinner 18:00pm to 22:00pm
Sunday and Monday: Closed