This Shepherd’s Bush hotel restaurant is a pleasant but unremarkable eatery in west London. Although above average as far as the food goes, much could be done to improve Kanteen’s atmosphere, to help give it some character.
Not the easiest place to get to, Kanteen sits upstairs in K West Hotel and Spa in Shepherd’s Bush. The hotel itself is a bit of a walk from the station, which immediately creates a barrier to people making this a destination restaurant, especially with Westfield and its plethora of places to eat mere steps away from the tube. However, if you're staying at the hotel itself, it's obviously convenient.
Upon arrival you step through the revolving door into a stylish bar, which is a promising start. However, a staircase leads you up to the restaurant which, to be put plainly, is a little stark - though this minimalism might be intented to exude understated elegance. White walls, basic wooden tables and closed curtains mean that the venue is bare, bar some feature lights and a so-subtle-you-might-miss-it collection of artwork that’s available to buy.
The restaurant is reasonably quiet, serving mainly hotel guests. Staff ensure the food is brought out swiftly but could be more attentive; whilst the hotel might be four stars, the restaurant service is not. Music is played quietly as a backdrop to your conversation, but there’s a lack of buzz about the place on weekdays, at least.
Despite initial misgivings, the food itself is actually pretty good. Starters are sophisticated and beautifully presented. The honey and lemon glazed goat's cheese served with beetroot, chicory, watercress and a chilli and walnut dressing is delicious, as is the Parma ham, wild rocket, fig and shaved Parmesan. Another popular dish is the smoked paprika squid, chorizo and sweet chilli aioli. All are reasonably priced (between £4.50 and £8).
Mains are between £13 and £19, and the selection is varied but some choices are a little predictable, with tourists after British dishes such as shepherd’s pie and what's actually a delicious, flaky beer-battered fish and chips with minted pea puree, clearly in mind. There are more exotic options, though, with the Nipa Thai green curry (served with either chicken, prawn or salmon) available for those after something a little spicy, and a grilled half chicken with couscous and spiced harissa yoghurt a good shout for those looking for a slice of the Middle East. The steak (£19) is delicious, and clearly a good cut.
The dessert menu offers chocolate brownies, sticky toffee puddings, apple cinnamon pies and the highlight - poached pear in mulled wine, with crème fraiche and shortbread: a winning combination.
The wine list offers some reasonable red, white and rosé wines (between around £20 and £35), and a 2010 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is a decent, mid-priced white option available by the bottle. The cocktail menu serves up a number of exotic sounding concoctions to get your mouth watering, but you need to pop down to the bar to enjoy them.
The Last Word
Whilst Kanteen is nice enough, and the food is good, it’s very much a hotel restaurant, rather than a dining experience in itself. There’s tough competition from the various eateries in Westfield and if it wants to compete, Kanteen needs to do something a little different to stand out from the crowd nearby.