A venue under the Westway just off the top end of Portobello in Acklam Road has always been a promising place that has never (or at least during my decade of living in or around Notting Hill) quite delivered.
First it was called the Subterranea, then Neighbourhood, then the Supper Club… Now MODE – a restaurant, bar and club – that opened in April and promises a new ‘chapter’ every six months.
Mode’s Chapter One’s setting is inspired by the industrial revolution – a small plane is hanging in the main room and there’s a flame-throwing pipe organ saved from a disused church behind the stage.
When we visit one Friday night, the hostess is wearing a uniform that I can’t really attribute to any particular character – something between a dominatrix and KGB spy.
The evening is called ‘No Glasto No Cry’ – Glastonbury is on, so various bands are up on the stage to cheer those who didn’t get (or didn’t want to get) tickets to the famous mud & rock festival at Worthy Farm.
The space at Mode feels much cosier and interesting than when Supper Club or Neighbourhood were here. It’s full of Notting Hill’s fashionable and beautiful wining and dining and listening to music.
My guest Melanie and I share Native Lobster, Avocado & Pink Grapefruit Salad (£7.50) and Panko Breadcrumb Calamari with Chorizo (£8) from the small plates selection.
I go for Grilled Sea Bass Fillet With Baby Zucchini, Butternut Squash & Fennel Vinaigrette (£16.50) for my main course and my guest orders Roast Free-Range Chicken Breast with Grilled Courgettes (£15.50).
The chicken and the calamari are the definite winners here; at first I think the sea bass is a bit bland, but then I discover the fennel vinaigrette underneath and it transforms the dish.
I’m also totally in love with the Negroni Corleone cocktail – the usual gin, vermouth and Campari is accompanied with Solerno blood orange liqueur (£9).
The Mode Margarita (Olmeca Altos Blanco tequila shaken with rosemary infused agave syrup and a hint of Limoncello, served straight up with a citrus salt rim, (£10)) is fabulous as well.
We enjoy a dessert of Balsamic Strawberries with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (£6.50) and the selection of sorbets, well… is a selection of sorbets (£6.50).
As we walk out of MODE, we admire Andrew Crosse’s installation at the entrance – LED letters forming its name and framing the entrance.
We conclude that the drinks here are amazing, the food is good and decently priced, the toilets could be nicer, but the venue is arty and interesting and the atmosphere friendly and fun.
Just to make sure I have experienced everything MODE has to offer, I go back the next night and dance until 3am.
If you like eating, drinking and dancing under the one roof, you will also like Paradise by Way of Kensal Green.