Lunch at The Champion, Notting Hill


I've said it once, I'll say it again - there's very little that beats a Sunday spent down the pub. And what a pub The Champion in Notting Hill is. Set just across from Hyde Park and in easy reach of Ladbroke Grove, Portobello Market and High Street Kensington, The Champion is the ideal spot to kick back, relax and enjoy a bite of British fayre every day of the week. Lovely.
We visited on a gloriously sunny Sunday - summer has finally arrived it appears. We took our places in the empty hidden garden, surrounded by old-school Victorian walls and trailing tree vines. Beer was the order of the day, customary when the sun's out, and I went for a Camden Hells lager; Alex chose the Pale Ale. Both were naturally refreshing with a touch of citrus on the palette and stayed cool even in the glare of the sun.
The starters arrived in a quick fashion. I chose the smoked salmon slivers with sourdough, crème fraîche and capers (EW - I picked these off immediately). The smoked salmon was cold, but not freezing and buttery in texture. Each bite of sourdough and salmon together was a salty dream, which was only intensified by the crème fraîche. Alex's choice of fried calamari with sweet chilli was surprisingly soft in texture and not at all chewy. The batter was light and fresh too.
Onto the mains - Alex was a lucky bunny and enjoyed a proper roast lunch of honey and whisky glazed gammon with beef dripping potatoes, red wine jus, red cabbage, leeks, peas, carrots and parsnips. I mean, come on what more do you want! The meat was nice and worked well with the rich jus. The veggies and potatoes were well cooked and not tough at all. The Yorkshire pudding was more like a Yorkshire cake with no rise at all, which was a shame. 
My main of mushroom risotto with pecorino and pumpkin seeds was a touch disappointing. The main flavour was white onions, which while sweet and juicy is not the earthiness of mushrooms. It was also so covered in pecorino and olive oil that the rice was hard to identify. Look, I'm not a food critic who is looking for ABSOLUTE PERFECTION in cooking techniques or utter authenticity in the ingredients chosen, but even for me this was a bit of a let down. Wish I could have had a roast :(
For desserts, I chose the lemon tart with raspberries which was a little more like a cheesecake and void of said raspberries. It was refreshing and light - just what you want at the end of a meal. Alex went for the sticky toffee pudding which was quite the opposite; rich, dense, sticky and sumptuous and utterly delicious if you ask him (which I did). 
The Champion isn't in easy reach of my home but it is worth taking a trek to for the hidden garden. I can't imagine a better spot to while away the hours with a Aperol Spritz or a bottle of something sparkling - just add a couple of starters and you're away!

Thank you to The Champion for arranging this review. All opinions, as ever, are my own. 

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