If you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover then it’s probably unwise to judge a restaurant by its wifi password. But, then again, Straker’s is a place that has been birthed by the internet. The British restaurant in Notting Hill is proudly built off the TikTok and Instagram fame of Thomas Straker—its head chef, namesake, and password-protected butterboy (one word, all lowercase, FYI). It’s a reminder that anything built on the foundation of content is imperfect. But, at its best, Straker’s charms you in the most intimate of spaces before it thwacks you in the face with flavour. Like so many online things, it’s irresistible, a bit annoying, and something you desperately want to be part of.
There’s much to live, love, and laugh about in this utterly overbooked restaurant. The candlelit, green-accented space is contentiously cosy (see: cramped) and a journey from one end of the restaurant to the other is like an Oliver Spencer-sponsored assault course. People and plates are over every shoulder. Bundles of bright girolles tagliolini singing with lemon sail past your head, while blistered flatbreads levitate around the room like butter-fuelled UFOs. A date night or a birthday dinner could feasibly capsize given the erratic chaos. If you can sit at the counter, do. If you can nab one of the booths at the back, even better. There’s air to breathe and space to enjoy a restaurant that feels like it could, one day, be quite brilliant.
Straker's is definitely confident. This is a restaurant that knows the Notting Hill locals and acolytes who fill the buzzing room will fork out—starter plates are all £20-plus and mains easily exceed £30. Yet just as you pause and furrow your brow at the prices, something will arrive at your table and your tongue will override your brain. Both the scorched mini flatbreads, either with gloriously garlic-heavy cavolo nero or chilli butter-soaked mussels, are sensational. While grilled langoustines with claw sauce are so good that they could, conceivably, be sold separately. Then there’s a plate of fresh sugared doughnuts with jam, crème fraîche, and a touch of thyme that mixes the smells of Brighton Pier with the finesse of a patisserie. With this kind of flavour, you can forgive Straker’s for any faults.
Stracciatella And Cavolo Nero Flatbread
Straker’s flatbreads are easily better than any other small plates flatbread in London. Unexpectedly blitzed cavolo nero with a garlic hit, plus oozing stracciatella with a glug of oil, and a generous throw of salt and pepper. The bread itself is puffy, a little singed, and quite… cute? All in all it’s the kind of thing you want to put in your pocket and pet if you weren’t already chewing it.
Mussel And Scallop Burnt Chilli Butter Flatbread
A £12 surcharge for a scallop feels like a lot but then again, this flatbread is already a lot. It’s swimming in a tingly chilli butter with plump mussels on top. It’s hard to justify a £24 flatbread the size of your palm. That said, it is completely decadent and something we’d very much eat again.
Grilled Langoustine, Claw Sauce
Claw sauce sounds a little bit Mad Max but it’s actually sweet, gluggable crustacean juice. Langoustines are like lobsters' cooler cousin and these are no different. Meaty, moreish, and that sauce is worth getting your claws out to fight over.
If you’re going to include one pasta dish on a menu you should ensure it’s memorable, and that’s exactly what this girolles tagliolini is. It’s a simple pile of mushroom, lemon, and parmesan pasta but it’s positively bursting with wallops of flavour from each element. The lemon, in particular, will put a spring in your step.
Middle White Pork Loin
Slabs of pork like this can be unforgiving meats to cook. Quick to dry and quick to leave the memory. This one is neither. The pork is on the perfect side of moist and the juice it’s served in is an umami-ish delight. There’s just-sweet apple sauce, dill, and a few veg hidden underneath as well. This is one of those dishes where it reads so-so but tastes sensational.
Fresh Doughnuts With Crème Fraîche And Jam
The words ‘fresh doughnuts’ should always spawn a knee-jigging and finger-tapping response. These do that and so much more. Part old-school sugared doughnut and part west London restaurant with crème fraîche and homemade jam, these are piping hot, two-bite wonders that you should not be sharing with more than one person. If that.