Absolutely checks out the interior credentials and dishes at Parabola, the restaurant in the newly opened Design Museum

Words Pendle Harte

You’d expect the restaurant belonging to the Design Museum to be designery – and Parabola has a pared back, measured look that fits John Pawson’s spacious, minimal building. Floors and walls are oak, most furniture is blue, and we’re impressed with the clever wireless lamps on each table.

We’re on the top floor and there are sweeping views over Holland Park, as well as over the slightly oddly positioned new blocks of luxury flats on which the project’s funding depended. Parabola is set to have a changing rosta of guest chefs, and the first is Rowley Leigh, whose local reputation is unparalleled. Leigh has been missed since Le Café Anglais closed, and his menu for Parabola includes favourites that will be familiar to diners who have followed his career – and he is walking round greeting people on the night we visit.


It’s a set menu, four courses with a wine matching option (glasses are especially small to allow for this; it’s a grown-up kind of place) and as pre-starters there are miniature parmesan custards with anchovy toast, a cheesy and delicious Leigh classic. Only two options for each course makes things easy, and allows us to get through the entire menu between us.


My warm radiccio salad with slightly blackened quince and walnut puree is good, while pike sausage – a pike mousse rolled into sausage form – is light and appealing. Main courses of partridge wrapped in cabbage, and hake in squid ink are predictably high class, while lemon tart for pudding is creamy and zesty. Rowley Leigh will be in residence until 28 January, and guest chefs for the rest of the year include Valentine Warner and Marianne Lumb.

224-238 Kensington High Street, W8, 020 7940 8795


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