An evening at The Hayden

Come for a chilled-out meal. Stay for the cocktails.

Situated in swish Westbourne Grove, The Hayden is the latest addition to pub and restaurant operator First Restaurant Group's collection of eateries. I was kindly invited to come and try their new menu, and popped in on a Thursday evening.

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A buzzy Thursday evening spent at @haydennottinghill, situated in swish Westbourne Grove. The mains we tried (risotto primavera and a very tender jumbo short rib of beef) were delicious, the sides were fine (plain mac 'n' cheese and surprisingly spicy padron peppers – only one in ten are said to be spicy but every single one on this plate was, which was quite exciting). But the star of the show on the food menu was definitely the mezze sharing platter. We ate it up so quickly we forgot about pacing ourselves for the next course. . Also, the cocktails are to die for. Trust me when I tell you to ignore the standard Happy Hour cocktails and go for head bartender @gledarsson's creations instead. We tried the lime-and-white-chocolate '21st Century White Mozart', the heady 'Spiced Apricot Sour', and the cinnamon-spiced 'Chora'. Amazingly-mixed and stand-out flavours. . Thank you to the wonderful staff at The Hayden for having us! Full review on TopCityBites.com / Top London Restaurants coming soon… . {Invited / Complimentary} . . . . . #londonfoodblogger #londonpub #gastropub #cocktailgram #mezze #mediterraneanfood #middleeasternfood #hummus #halloumi #londonfoodgram #londoneats #tastelondon #beefrib #shortrib #barbecue #risotto #foodanddrinks #cocktails #londonbar #londonnights #mixology #discoverunder10k #foodgrammer #foodiepics #foodphotographer #datenightfood #londonrestaurant #eatmunchies #yougottaeatthis

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Thursday seems to be the new Friday in London: where Thursday evenings used to be as calm as the rest of the week, it's gradually become almost as buzzy as Friday in city pubs and bars. So when we walked in at 7pm, I was a little surprised and sad to see it so quiet inside. But this was all about to change…

The mains on the menu are a mixture of pub grub favourites and treats for a special night out. Think swordfish sandwich, hipster salads and whole lobster alongside the standard steak and chips, fish and chips and burgers. My dining buddy of the evening opted for the risotto primavera, and I for the jumbo short rib of beef. Both were good, both were delicious – the risotto creamy and comforting, and the beef rib tender and falling off the bone.

We chose padron peppers and mac 'n' cheese as sides. The mac 'n' cheese was fine – quite an plain dish with no cheese or crumb crust or extras – but the padron peppers were on fire. Almost literally. Did you know that about one in 10 of this species of pepper is spicy? I've been eating these for years and have only ever had one spicy pepper… until these evening. They were ALL spicy, and some of them packed quite the punch! It was quite exciting, actually. Maybe we got a 'lucky' batch of peppers?

We weren't able to finish the mains and sides, though, because of the starter that blew us away… the mezze sharing platter. Flat bread with hummus, bruschetta dip, tzatziki, olives, grilled halloumi, and red pepper and feta dip. So. Good. It was so delicious we ate it up fast, completely forgetting about pacing ourselves for the main course.

As for the cocktails – ignore the standard Happy Hour cocktails, even if it's Happy Hour. Instead, go for head bartender Gledis' specials. We tried the lime-and-white-chocolate '21st Century White Mozart', the heady 'Spiced Apricot Sour', and the cinnamon-spiced 'Chora'. Trust me, they're worth it.

By about 8pm, the whole place was buzzing, but in a genteel way: it was fully-booked and lively, but not in a loud or obnoxious way. Just how I like it. I think this is a great place to come to chill out. I'll definitely be back for the mezze and a special cocktail or two.