My Notting Hill with restaurateur Antoine Melon / Food & Drink
My Notting Hill with restaurateur Antoine Melon

The epicure extraordinaire reveals his favourite food spots in Notting Hill.

The epicure extraordinaire reveals his favourite food spots in Notting Hill.

Most seven-year-olds mark their birthday with a party. Antoine Melon asked to dine at Lyon’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurant. Consuming a whole degustation menu, he then met Paul Bocuse, the “Pope” of French cuisine, who took him on a tour of the kitchen. “I came back to the table and said to my parents, ‘This is what I want to do’,” Antoine recalls fondly.

Antoine is now a restauranteur and founder of HOMETAINMENT, a hospitality and entertainment marketplace for unique experiences. An illustrious career spanning 18 restaurant openings has taken him all over the world. The French native has met famed chefs from Antonio Carluccio to Yotam Ottolenghi. He oversaw the renovation of Aqua Shard and was a director at Soho House. “I ran all their private members’ clubs, public restaurants and hotels in the UK, which was an amazing challenge.”

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Among the 13 clubs in the UK, Antoine opened Soho Farmhouse and 76 Dean Street, as well as helping to launch The Ned. “The scale of it was incredible – 250 bedrooms and 10 restaurants in what used to be the biggest bank in the world.”

Antoine was in Phuket managing luxury resorts when he was offered the role. “I said, ‘If I’m moving to London, I want to live in Notting Hill’. I had an image of it being cosmopolitan but with a village feel, with lots of greenery, gardens and hidden spaces.”

With its independent bakeries and upscale celebrity haunts, Notting Hill has long been a beacon for gourmands and Antoine wasted no time getting to know the neighbourhood inside out. “Between Holland Park and Portobello Road there are some hidden gems,” he extolls. “Six Portland is a small restaurant with a lot of character doing amazing contemporary British food. Then there’s Julie’s, which a friend of mine is reopening, and Casa Cruz, which is very glam.”



Antoine’s perfect Saturday starts with breakfast at Granger & Co, founded by the late Australian chef Bill Granger, inventor of avocado on toast. Next is coffee from Hagen, a workout at Bodyworks, a roast at Electric House then sushi with friends at Los Mochis and finally a nightcap. Antoine’s favourite watering hole is Viajante 87, by Markus Thesleff, in Notting Hill Gate.

“Electric House has been my social scene for years now,” Antoine says of the Soho House outpost in W11. “I used to try a new restaurant every week. But in a club, people are looking for familiarity.”

The upshot of such a vibrant local food scene, he adds, is that quality produce is easy to come by if you know where to look. “I buy my fruit and veg from the Farmer’s Market,” Antoine explains. “Or from Portobello Market on a Saturday morning – but you have to go early to avoid the tourists!”

Notable food shops Supermarket of Dreams and the Notting Hill Fish + Meat Shop were both founded by Chris D'Sylva, who has recently become a restauranteur. His neighbourhood bistro Dorian is now the hottest hotspot in the area. “They got their Michelin star with a 23-year-old chef, Max Coen, who has amazing talent,” Antoine says of the recent announcement, noting that The Ledbury – helmed by Brett Graham – now holds a much-coveted third star.

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As well as new launches and accolades, this year has also seen the loss of Michel Roux’s Le Gavroche and Marcus Waring’s Marcus. “There are lots of emblematic restaurants closing,” Antoine muses. “The model isn’t sustainable anymore because of high rent, costs and business rates.”

The pandemic, of course, has been another hurdle for the hospitality sector, although Antoine believes there are some positives to come out of it in the long term. “We often socialise in the area where we work,” Antoine explains. “With people now working from home two or three days a week, people are spending far more time in Notting Hill.”


Where restaurants used to be quiet on weekdays, the neighbourhood has now adopted a seven-day model. Businesses like Gold and Zephyr, Antoine notes, are achieving similar covers to eateries in Soho. The opening of the Six Senses Hotel in nearby Bayswater, he expects, will bring a further boost. Antoine’s entertainment business was also borne of the pandemic. “I tried to look at lockdown as an opportunity to offer people in hospitality a new revenue stream,” he reflects. 

Despite losing a star following the passing of its namesake chef, Restaurant Paul Bocuse in Lyon – where Antoine marked his seventh birthday – still holds the record for the longest-held three-Michelin-star rating in the world. While Antoine believes these accolades are still relevant, he asserts that the sector needs to change. “There aren’t enough women in the industry,” he says. “Most chefs learn from their mother or their grandmother but this isn’t reflected in the restaurant scene.”

With food forming an intrinsic part of his identity, the sector remains incredibly close to Antoine’s heart. “There was a famous food critic nearly 100 years ago, Curnonsky, who said Lyon is the world capital of gastronomy,” Antoine explains proudly. Today, Notting Hill might just knock it off the top spot.

Antoine's book, THE CURIOUS GOURMAND, has 140 stories about the origins of some of the most famous dishes, drinks and habits around the table.

Stay: Read.