Since opening in June, Zephyr at 100 Portobello Road has become the new ‘it’ spot with its mixed-matched interiors and aesthetically pleasing sharing plates. It’s popped up time and time again on my social feeds, and I took this as a sign that we needed to go and see what all the hype was about.
And it wasn’t just me who had heard about this new outpost from the highly successful Pachamama group, who already have three Peruvian restaurants to their name (Pachamama Bar + Kitchen, Chicama and Pachamama East). Because for the typically quieter Sunday lunch, people were queuing outside, hoping to get a spot at one of the tables occupied by smiling couples, friends and families.
The restaurant aches with designs with an open plan kitchen and a marble pass, wood accents, tastefully lit artwork and an endless array of crockery that was imperfectly mismatched. It’s designed to reflect the soul and essence of Notting Hill and its celebration of arts, style, creativity, and culture. The restaurant and bar take inspiration from the neighbourhood’s iconic colourful houses using a wide range of vibrant colours.
Pachamama Group Creative Director Yaroslava Malkova says: “We love the area and thought we’d be a great addition to the already pretty good restaurant scene – plus Portobello has a lot of charm about it.”
Late at night, Zephyr transforms into a sleek, sexy and glamourous setting where sophisticated cocktails are served in the downstairs Naked & Famous bar making it your one-stop shop to soak up the weekend buzz or to enjoy a quieter weeknight tipple.
The seasonal and sustainable menu is split into seven sections, with each plate designed to complement another: spreads, salads, raw, sea, soil, land and for later, desserts.
The concept of sharing menus is on the rise, with customers responding well to the fact they are not limited in choice – enjoy a range of flavours and sensations for around the same price as an appetiser and main. It really does feel like more bang for your buck.
In charge of the kitchen is the award-winning Executive Chef John Skotidas, a Greek South American chef best known for Notting Hill hits Suzi Tros and Mazi. Yaroslava added: “We just put together many years of travelling into the menu we loved and executed together with the chef over three months of tastings.”
We were told that a couple should order around five plates, which all arrive within minutes of each other, to experience the flavours in unison. It’s also a feast for the eyes, with the table quickly filling with quirky plates and colourful ingredients, making it a great picture opportunity – helping explain why this place has become such a social media success.
The Bread Basket was exactly what you would expect – crusty on the outside and warm and fluffy on the inside and a must-order to soak up all of the delicious sauces, juices and dips.
The Smoked Aubergine spread was a winner, topped with roasted sesame, coriander and crispy onions, it was surprisingly different from what you come to expect from the classic dish.
The plates range in price from £7 appetisers through to a £38 plate of octopus, but the beauty of the sharing menu means you can spend as little or as much as you’d like.
You could taste the freshness in the seafood, including the Sea Bass Carpaccio that we found a little too salty for our liking, through to the melt-in-your-mouth whole Butterfield Sea Bass that’s perfectly charred on an open-grill fire, complete with a side of Amarillo butter.
It also came deboned for easy serving and was up there with one of our favourite-tasting dishes. For £25, it was pretty good value for money, and it’s £10 cheaper on the lunch menu, so we’d recommend trying it out during the day!
To wash it down, there is an extensive wine list to choose from, with each bottle hand-picked to be the perfect accompaniment for each dish. There are Greek, French, Spanish, Italian and New Zealand wines alongside a selection of cocktails and champagnes.
We stuck with the mid-range Greek wine Assyrtiko Vourvoukelis white which was uncomplicated and crisp, before finishing with a smooth red to round out the tender spiced lamb cutlets, which happened to be called Zephyr but not affiliated with the restaurant.
The wines range from £36 to £1,300, with a Sommelier on hand to help you select the perfect drop for your palette and budget.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have room for dessert as we went a little over the suggested five sharing plates, but the menu includes a Greek Yoghurt Cremeux with strawberry and ouzo sorbet, as well as an Orange Pie with custard.
I’m happy to say that the restaurant did live up to the hype, as we left feeling charmed and like we’d just spent a couple of hours in a weirdly-familiar setting without ever having been before.
Zephyr is open for lunch and dinner seven nights a week, but with so much appeal, we’d suggest booking ahead to ensure you secure a spot at this well-loved venue.