I like concepts. I think they’re fun, and when done well, they offer something beyond your average dining experience. Sometimes when you dine out, you just want a bit of a spectacle. Of course, concepts get a hard time in London – opportunist foodies often jump on the bandwagon by taking two completely disparate items, say whisky and hot dogs, and throwing them together a la Shoreditch in the hope of creating a mad buzz. You need more than trendy typography, Twitter and novelty to leave a lasting impression in this cynical city, friends.

Parlour Kensal Rise Review: The Lowdown

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For me, Parlour in Kensal Rise has just the right sprinkling of concept. Tucked away from the main road, the restaurant prides itself on retro, old-school dishes and had a distinctly vintage vibe – their kooky mismatched vintage ornaments, for-sale art and wall hangings give it an intimate, fun feel.

Parlour Kensal Rise Review: The Food

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The menu is playful, with food that can also be shared and enjoyed en masse by the whole table.  There’s no structure – it’s all very casual, very fun – you can have starters and mains or a big tableful of everything. Heck, you can just have soda bread for dinner if you like, I doubt they will judge you. In fact, their warm soda bread with an almost cheesy, fermented butter, is pretty damn sensational.

Speaking of other sensational things, for me, there’s nothing more scandalous than when a restaurant dares to meddle with hummus. But Parlour do it oh. so. well. Their Chestnut Hummus (£6.50) is so thick and creamy it could be used to build a chickpea house, but it’s earthy, deep, nutty – it’s like hummus’ laid-back french cousin. It’s a bloody cool dish and we talk about it for a solid 30 minutes.

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The second sharing plate, a raw vegetable ravioli, equally knocks our socks off. There’s no pasta here; the ‘ravioli’ is actually very thinly sliced layers of raw beetroot and root vegetable, nuzzling up close to lightly whipped goats cheese, and pimped out with cranberries, salty capers and red cabbage.

There’s so much going on here, but it’s pulled together with such a lightness of touch that each flavour bounces off the next – creating this strange, wonderful harmony, whereby we forget that we’re eating cranberries and capers and cheese all at once, because it’s just so beautiful. We ponder this magic as we eat yet more chestnut hummus.

The main courses take you back to your schools days, but in a good way. Signatures are the Chicken Kyiv and Cow Pie; the cow pie comes with a huge hunk of bone marrow running through it, a chive and marrow stuffing and succulent, tender chunks of beef. It’s massive, though. So massive it’s bigger than Claude’s face and she is defeated by the thick, suet pastry in minutes. Blame the chesnut hummus, not the pie, though.

The restaurant doesn’t just do school days though – their scallop dish is most grown-up indeed. Scallops come on a nutty parsnip puree, with parsnips, asparagus and a buttery sauce. There’s a bit too much butter, though, which is a shame, because the concept is all there. We’ve just realised that this place can do Primary School and Grown Up in one menu and we’re slightly smitten.

Parlour Kensal Rise Review: The Desserts

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The retro puddings are seriously fun – think arctic roll, wagon wheels and rolos – but at this point we wonder whether the concept has gone too far. Does anyone actually like arctic roll? That said, the table (of 40-something Kensal Rise locals) next to us are climbing up the walls in sheer joy, so we put it down to the fact that Claude and I cannot remember these dessert the first time around (wagon wheels were already untrendy when we were in school) and thus the nostaglic fondness is lost on us. Still, someone blow torching your pudding at the table is always, always fun.

Parlour Kensal Rise Review: Our Verdict

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If you’re looking for a step back in time, we couldn’t recommend parlour more. Come for the chestnut hummus, get a pie to share and (if you’re over 25) the arctic roll, and it will be like the internet was never invented.

Parlour is at 5 Regent Street, London, NW10 5LG