Kew Gardens’ newest food offering is simple and stylish. Here’s what we made of the Pavilion Bar and Grill
Words Pendle Harte
Visit Kew Gardens before 27 October and you’ll be able to see the Chihuly exhibition of striking, nature-inspired glass sculptures scattered around the gardens. And you’ll need to stop for lunch, obviously. The gardens’ longstanding Pavilion restuarant, with its tired building, was demolished some time ago and in its place is the shiny new Pavilion Bar and Grill. This is a stylish, steel-framed, contemporary low rise building on the original site, with lots of outdoor seating, landscaping and views over the gardens. Floor-to-ceiling glass, dark walls and sleek lighting create architectural interest and a modern feel, while an informal, busy vibe makes this a comfortable place to stop. Sitting outside on a summer’s day, this is undoubtedly one of London’s finest spots.
The menu is unfussy and simple. Pub-style, you order at the bar and dishes appear when they’re ready. There’s a strong focus on healthy and sustainable dining here, with a note on provenance on the back of the menu (it’s nice to note that all herbs come from Kew Gardens) – and the menu is diverse enough to span BBQ pork belly ribs, vegan burgers and fermented cabbage. We try a Josper beef burger – infused with Kew seasoning – which is classy and satisfying, and a salad of salt-baked salmon, barley and rocket, which is generous and tasty. From the children’s menu, our daughter raves about the sweet bbq chicken wings. We are tempted to order a family sharing board, which comes as a meaty or vegetarian option – meaty including spatchcock chicken, brisket and ribs, vegetarian featuring grilled asparagus, mushrooms and vegan halloumi – but can’t agree, so stick to individual ordering. There are lighter plates too as well as sandwiches, cakes and pastries, which are available all day.
The Pavilion is Kew’s mid-range eaterie; it’s smaller and more stylish than the Orangery, which focuses on quick bites, salads and quiches, and it’s more sophisticated than White Peaks with its child-centric offerings. The Botanical is the gardens’ most formal eaterie, with bookings and fancy afternoon teas, while the new Food Village with its street food vibe specialises in pulled pork on the weekend.
Remember: Chihuly is only showing until 27 October, so if you haven’t seen it yet, plan lunch and a visit now.
For more information, visit kew.org