Muddy Eats: Jack’s Kitchen, Kingston
Recently, I was invited to the opening of a new restaurant in Kingston called Jack’s Kitchen. I was a little hesitant about it, if I’m honest. Not because the menu didn’t look great, or the location – it overlooks the Thames – but because it’s in *whisper it* a Holiday Inn.
I know – I’m being desperately snobby about my hotel choices here. And truth be told, I’ve stayed in many a nice Holiday Inn, and never had cause for complaint.
But I hold my hands up in shame, because Jack’s Kitchen turned out to be pretty darned good. Better than that actually, it was pretty darned excellent. And I’d certainly go back for the truffle arranccini we had as nibbles, and the peppered wild tiger prawns we had as a starter.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back a step or two. Jack’s Kitchen, named in honour of the owner’s first employer a Mr Jack Frogart, is the revamped restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel. It’s been decked out in a cool and contemporary style, with an air of sophistication and luxury.
Head chef, Akshay Sabharwal, a former head chef at Jackson + Rye, the sophisticated American restaurant inspired by 1920s Brooklyn bars and Manhattan speakeasies in Richmond, has put together a menu that is described as ‘modern cuisine of the the world’.
At the official opening of Jack’s Kitchen, the food was adventurous and elegant, setting the tone for the menus that will follow. We started with a tray of nibbles – roasted nuts with rosemary and chilli sea salt, those delicious truffle arranccini, padron peppers tossed simply with sea salt, and marinated olives, with sour dough bread.
For starters we had peppered wild tiger prawns with a celeriac and apple slaw, and a passionfruit dressing. It was utterly divine. But then, I am a big fan of seafood. A crisp Waipara Hills Sauvignon Blanc accompanied.
There was an intermediate course of lemon sorbet, which was light, cool, and, well, lemony. Then followed the main of pan fried venison with figs and baby turnips, or, for people like me who prefer not to eat Bambi (sorry!) there was a pumpkin ravioli with mascarpone and wild mushrooms and roasted pumpkin seeds. I was happy, and so was my friend Sarah who had the venison. It was perfectly cooked, she said.
The dessert was called Jack’s creative mess – take on the traditional Eton mess – with a combination of berries, compote, meringue, small chunks of jelly and popping candy. It was the kind of pudding my kids would have loved, and not what I would usually order for myself. But, it was a perfect finish to the meal.
Jack’s Kitchen is open all day, from breakfast to dinner, including a brunch menu on weekends. It’s a side-effect, I suspect, of being part of a hotel. And while each menu looks deliciously tempting (how do you like your eggs? – royale, benedict, truffled, scrambled…), it’s the a la carte menu that’s the big draw. With signature dishes including smoked scallops served in a smoke-filled glass dome (wowsers! I’m going back just to have this) and Nova Scotia lobster to T-bone porterhouse steak and Tandoori guinea fowl, it’s a menu that sets out to impress.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Foodies, couples, special occasions, gatherings. There is a children’s menu, and the staff were incredibly welcoming when I went, and I suspect that would extend to children. But personally, I’d rather go without mine and enjoy a full foodie experience. There is also a private dining space which can cater for small groups or large parties.
Not for: Those who want a more cosy, rustic environment. It’s probably not the type of place you pop into for a quick bite, either.
£££: A la carte – appetisers from £5.50 for the seasonal soup to £14.95 for lobster; entrees from £12.50 for pumpkin ravioli to £19.95 for lamb shank madras; the grill starts at £10.95 for Jack’s homemade hamburger and goes up to a whopping £49.95 for Porterhouse Signature Jack’s dry aged 700g T-bone steak. A whole Nova Scotia lobster is £34.95.
Jack’s Kitchen, Kingston Tower, Portsmouth Rd, Surbiton, KT6 5QQ. Tel: 020-87866520. jackskitchenuk.com