I’d heard many good reports about this place so, after quaffing a fine bottle of a crisp Touraine, Sauvignon Blanc at the Chamberlayne, I crossed over the road to The Whippet Inn. I never went here when it was an American diner, but loved it as the classic French Restaurant, Madame Gautier. However, they were sadly gone within just four months of opening. The expanding Urban Pubs group took it over and it reopened it as the Whippet Inn a couple of years ago.
It was a Saturday night and place was buzzy, busy and lowly lit with a pleasant ambiance; we hadn’t booked but the manager kindly found us a table close against the bar.
The menu was pricey, like everywhere in Kensal Rise these days, though I can imagine they must have an eye watering lease to pay before they even sell a glass of wine. However, the important thing is that the quality matches the prices. They have a fine wine list; Viognier, Picpoul de Pinet, Sancerre and Veltliner were among the whites on offer, along with Fleurie, Saint Emillion and Garnacha among the Reds. Plenty to choose from £19.00 and up along with draught ales and bottled craft beers also on offer.
The menu was more than enticing with grilled sea bass, steak and char grilled Hampshire pork chops, but there was a lovely mouth watering dish for the daily special, Devon crab linguini with chili and lemon (£17.00). I matched it with a bottle of the Portuguese Aphros Loureiro, 2014 Vinho Verde (£23.00).
Oh my, with the first taste there was a party in my mouth and the Vinho Verde was the perfect guest to invite! A light, fresh, vibrant young wine with a citrus nose of lemon, lime, grapefruit and a minerality along with a light petillance on the palate. The delicate balance between the acidity and a slight hint of floral sweetness entwined perfectly with the texture and flavour of the crab and the spiciness of the chili. Aged on the lees for 2 months before bottling, gives a lovely yeasty undertone and a long finish to this delightful wine.
Well the crab blew me away; a generous portion with lots of chili. The food and wine danced a tango in my mouth. So good, I interrogated the manager for the recipe so I could deconstruct and cook it at home.
My dining companion opted for the vegetarian option of Charred butternut squash, puy lentils, fresh goat’s curd, pumpkin seed pesto (£12.50). Butternut is at its best this time of year and the dish was packed with the rich earthiness of puy, balanced with the sweetness of the squash. Unlike many restaurants in Kensal The Whippet always has tasty vegetarian options as standard.
We shared a comfort dessert of homemade Bramley apple crumble and cinnamon ice cream (£6.00). A sumptuous dessert, not over sweet, and plenty enough for two.
We finished the evening back across the road in the Chamberlayne with 1/2 dozen oysters and with a rather fine Colomabrd for a night cap.
The Urban Pubs and Bars group that own the Whippet will shortly be opening their new venture The Royal Oak in Harlesden, and judging by great food and faultless non intrusive service at The Whippet, I can’t wait to try it.
The Whippet Inn
64-66 Chamberlayne Road
Tel: 020 8968 8142