Kensington Place, the west London neighbourhood restaurant that helped to pioneer modern British cooking when it opened in 1987, will close, as first reported by Richard Vines. The restaurant’s final service will be on 21 March; adjacent fishmonger Fish Shop will also be shutting its doors.
In a statement, the company indicated that the closure is a result of Newcombe House, which houses the restaurant, being developed by Brockton Capital and U+I. The majority of staff will move to other restaurants within the group, it has said. Chief executive and chairman Des Gunewardena praised Kensington Place’s “illustrious history,” and called it “one of the restaurants that kickstarted the renaissance of London restaurants”.
Opened by Nick Smallwood and Simon Slater in the same year as Bibendum and the River Cafe, Kensington Place was a genuinely pioneering restaurant. Writing in The Observer in 2001, critic Kathryn Flett remembered it feeling “large... light, loud — all that glass, all the better to be seen enjoying yourself hugely... but also highly unpretentious and bustling.” The kitchen was famously headed up by chef Rowley Leigh, who spent 19 years there, leaving in 2006 to open Le Café Anglais. When news of the closure broke yesterday, he tweeted ‘Sic transit’: a shortened form of the Latin phrase Sic transit gloria mundi, which translate as “Thus passes the glory of the world.” In an increasingly transient restaurant market, a 32 year tenure is all the more remarkable.