The Dock Kitchen is weird. Is it a good weird or a bad weird? I don’t know. It started as a pop-up restaurant but it is not a pop-up anymore. It does not seem to know what it is- is it a restaurant in a lighting showroom (you know, a bit like the restaurant inside IKEA)? Is it a brassiere? a canteen? a restaurant? After eating there twice, I still have no idea, and this bugs me.
The Dock Kitchen shares the same building as Tom Dixon, the lighting designer who sometimes also designs furniture and interiors. There is a staircase that leads you directly to the toilet and the lighting shop. Everywhere in the dining area, you can see Tom Dixon’s lights- A LOT of them. They are put in clusters in zones and the furniture (some also designed by Dixon) varies accordingly. The chairs on our table were not that comfy. The back was low and I had no idea where to put my long coat. (p.s no cloak room facilities) Some of the lights look tacky and it was hung so low that 2 of us hit our head by accident when we stood up to leave the table.
The service was borderline between amateur and bad. (I blame Michel Roux’s Service TV series for making me pay more attention to this) Last time we went, there were only 4 cocktails on the drinks list but the waitress did not seem to know what the ingredients were. She, nor other staff, checked if we need anything. We had to really wave each time we needed anything. The most ‘shocking’ service was that when she changed cutlery, she slid it across the table to us. (There was no table cloth and I do not know how clean the table was!!) Even when I eat at the cheapest restaurant in Chinatown, no waiting staff would ever slide chopsticks across to us as it is considered rude to do so.
The chef, Stevie Parle, of the Dock Kitchen was trained at The River Cafe, Moro and Petersham Nurseries. The menus are ambitious. It serves themed set menus in the evenings (and a la carte for lunch). It was Mexican the week we went but other week could food from India or Lebanon etc. The variation sounds interesting but I am also sceptical about this- how could one master so many countries’ cuisines? The waitress warned us that set menu contained meat and asked if any of us was vegetarian. When we said yes, she told us the vegetarian dish was fish. (!) And is it normal to serve big plates of bread with no bread plate? Ok, may be I am just being picky, perhaps this is the ‘casual charm’ that attracts the diners.
The strange thing is there are a lot of smartly dressed diners, as if they are going to a fine dining restaurant. How was the food? It tasted ok, though it really did not taste that Mexican to me. The pork taco was the best dish but the rest of the starter platter was only average. The quail main course was just ok. I liked the blood orange sorbet. They failed the fresh mint tea test as it was weak like boiled water. £35 for a 4 course meal was not too bad. The cost of alcohol was set at a higher range than the food. For example, there was only one Rosé on the menu and it cost £8 a glass. The Mexican Mezcal was £10 a shot.
I really do not understand why this restaurant has so many well-heeled diners. It was not in a buzzing location so the restaurant seemed to be the destination. I will not choose to go there for food as I could have better food elsewhere easily for that price. The service did not match the quality I expect for the price they charged. The place lacked charm.
Ok, I decided. The Dock Kitchen is a restaurant with poor service and average food.The Dock Kitchen
344/342 Ladbroke Grove
Kensal Road W10 5BU