Ffiona’s combines a relaxing, comfortable atmosphere with a desire to please. Expect to immediately become part of the family and to be treated consequently.
Located halfway between Notting Hill and High Street Kensington, Ffiona’s is a homely restaurant tucked away behind a glass window on the winding Kensington Church Street. The décor is intimate and personal, with an irregular L-shaped room that's lined with music sheets, looking over untreated mismatched chairs and tables that tightly fill the floor space. Large candles on each table add some light and atmosphere, and the true personality exuding from the space is very palpable.
It's relaxed and subdued, mostly thanks to the dim lighting. However, rather than being popular with couples for romantic tête-à-tête, the restaurant is a favourite haunt for female friends unwinding over a meal. The furniture arrangement and overall vibe is conducive to conversation between tables, but the discreet intimacy you might want for a first date is not necessarily there. The energetic Ffiona is a most extraordinary presence within her own restaurant; she's incredibly accommodating in a pragmatic kind of way.
Ffiona’s honest attitude is reflected towards her customers as well as towards the food. Deceptive descriptions, extravagant ingredients and an overall sense of pretentiousness are often the rule in London restaurants, but not here. In fact, the menu is simply written on blackboards (you may need to crane your neck to read them) and there's no description to go with them. The countless specials are simply and expertly enumerated by the staff. Within the starters (£4.50-£10), the addictive Moroccan aubergine salad is a little oily, while the calamari are well cooked. The mains (£15-£21.50) span roasted duck breast with Armagnac, game options and the less elaborate chicken breast. You get to choose the side dishes, which include deliciously indulgent colcannon alongside mash, chips and basmati rice. And if you are looking for a hint of exoticism, just ask, since Ffiona can cook up a mean aromatic stir fry with ginger and chilli in a moment. The distinctive feature is the unpretentious home made quality of everything - presentation is good without being high-brow and flavours are satisfying in a homely way, rather than reaching the heights of gourmet cuisine. It all feels like an improved and very welcome 'home away from home', even if the prices of the mains do seem a little steep.
The drink list is fairly predictable but fully satisfying. A dozen and a half bottles (£19-£43 or £4.50-£5 for a glass of the house wine) mingle with a handful of cocktails (£7). There are also four half-bottles (£17-£27) from France, enabling an extra degree of freedom. Beers (£4-£4.25), spirits (£3), digestifs (£3-£6), freshly squeezed juices (£3.30) and hot drinks (£2.50) complete the list.
The Last Word
Ffiona’s is an attractive little gem. Despite a few flaws (the most prominent being the pricing), it's an intimate and welcoming space that's a great spot in which to hide away from London for a couple of hours.