Putting The Bello In Portobello: Why This Quirky Restaurant Leads The Way In Fine Dining

Published . By Lisa Moore.

If ever there was a restaurant that perfectly matched the vibe of the local area, it’s FIEND in Notting Hill: beautiful, eclectic and full of contrasts. But what sets it apart, and in a pretty major fashion, are the dishes and overall experience on offer here. Let’s not beat around the (shepherd’s) bush, this luxurious fine dining spot is a must for any of you daring to push your gastronomic boundaries.

FIEND Portobello Cocktail Bar | DesignMyNight

We’re totally feeling the gorgeous décor here.

Having opened in July 2021, and with the great Chris Denney at the helm, this two-floored cocktail-bar-come-restaurant has been making serious waves in the London culinary scene, promising an extraordinary and unique dining adventure. As you enter through an unassuming entrance, the first thing you see is the sleek and swish bar area, which leads nicely to the open-plan kitchen at the back. My date and I were given a prime spot directly opposite the chefs, which not gonna lie, we absolutely loved, alongside the plush velvet curtains, emerald green walls, massive fancy mirrors, dim lighting and unapologetically saucy artwork. You could almost describe it as moody, but I don’t mean that negatively, maybe atmospheric is a better term.

FIEND | Restaurant In London | DesignMyNight

Smokin’ scenes: theatrical dishes meet exceptional cookery.

We opted for the seven-course feast (£70 each), which not only allows us to try as many dishes as possible but also takes the hassle out of ordering. Not that I’m lazy and greedy, obviously. What was refreshing is that although they’re known for their meat and fish, the set menu can be tweaked for veggies, without any fuss, drama or detriment to each perfectly proportioned plate.

We were warmly welcomed by the waiting team, who not only knew each dish inside out, but expertly navigated their way around a very busy Saturday evening. To whet our appetite, we were offered a dinky taco amused-bouche, one with mackerel and one without. Did it hit the spot? Absolutely. Next came the brioche, and the sweet and decadent dough was a great match with my date’s super smooth chicken parfait and my creamy yet salty seaweed butter. The chickpea flatbread was an unusual choice of accompaniment but worked amazingly well: I could have eaten much more of it. With the aroma of freshly baked bread in the air, next came the Vesuvius tomato, caviar and cod roe. I’m not sure exactly what wizardry occurred here, but the texture was almost jelly-like and cut through with ease. My veggie alternative was delicately spiced, doused with silky tahini and topped with crunchy marjoram (I had to Google that too). All in all, it was a truly memorable dish.

FIEND Secret Underground Bar | DesignMyNight

A cosy corner to drink a cocktail or two.

I added on wine pairing to my meal (£49), with the highlight being the Wiston Estate fizz which I sipped with my starter. A traditionally crafted English sparkling wine from Sussex, this tipple benefits from long hours of sunshine and clay-based earth. So moreish. Another belter was the Akashi-Tai Ginjo Yuzushu Sake, a Limoncello-like and refreshing digestif to sign off the evening in style. As for my date, his cocktails were outstanding, notably the pansy-topped Cherry Gin Fizz (£12), a zippy blend of Bombay Sapphire, black pepper cordial, lemon, egg white and soda.

Up next came the sea trout and leek, soaked in saffron vinaigrette. Herby, citrusy and rich, this dish was flavoursome without being overpowering. The fish was flawlessly cooked, falling off the fork with every bite.

My date was excited to sample the next course, the Lamb Heart Agnolotti, as he’d never tried offal before. It’s not as scary as it sounds, pinky promise, it proved to be tender and absolutely flawless. I adored my charred artichoke, plus both of our broths were beautifully reduced down and created a wonderful depth of flavour. Another nice touch is that the chefs weren’t afraid to get stuck in and ask how our evening was going. Standards are high here and anything less just isn’t acceptable.

FIEND | Fine Dining Tasting Menu | DesignMyNight

Unbelievable pretty plates with cocktails to match.

A cute nod to the local area’s beloved spice, the jerk cod was a triumph. The fish melted in your mouth while the sprinkling of onion gave the right amount of texture. After scrolling on Insta, I did hope to try the celeriac that was enjoyed by critics in the past, but I’m kinda pleased that dishes are rotated daily as instead, I got to eat the stunning asparagus and hollandaise. Although simplistic in name, I can’t put into words how lovely this sauce was, especially with the flaky Aarewasser cheese.

Following a swift and delicious cucumber palette cleanser, we were given a masterclass in desserts. First, the best seller: gariguette strawberries, chervil and toasted meringue. The precision was astonishing, from the marinated fruit to the Oreo-like flecks underneath. The crème caramel had the right amount of wobble, our bowl of fragrant rhubarb sorbet also boasted impressive sugar work and we were fighting after every last bite.

Chris and team – take a bow.

The DesignMyNight Digest 

Heavenly plates with a devilish flair? Yep, this juxtaposition is exactly why FIEND should be next on your list of things to do in Notting Hill. If you’re not bowled over by the chefs’ culinary skills, showcasing a series of dishes that you’ve never experienced before, you will be by the wonderful service and curious interiors. Now, I’m left wondering, why can’t every meal finish with that gorge sake? 

  💰 The damage: £213 for two, excluding service

  📍  The location: 301 Portobello Road, London W10 5TD

  👌 Perfect for: An unusual date night after strolling around the market

 ⭐ Need to know:  There are supper clubs and special guest sessions that are worth checking out

 If you’re on the hunt for more fine dining, check out the capital’s best restaurants here. Don’t miss a new restaurant opening with our weekly newsletter.