Looking for the best restaurants in Chelsea? Here’s the C&TH pick.
One of London’s most famous and upmarket districts, Chelsea has long been a foodie hotspot. Ever a place to be seen, the King’s Road and its side streets are littered with top-class eateries, with long-standing institutions vying for attention against new wave hangouts. Here we highlight some of the best restaurants in Chelsea, stretching from the quaint streets behind Cheyne Walk to the world-famous Sloane Square.
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Pavilion Road has become something of a foodie hub in recent years, with an ever-growing collection of trendy restaurants and stores spilling out onto its cobbled streets. One of these is Hans’ Bar & Grill, part of boutique hotel 11 Cadogan Gardens. The restaurant is named after the original Sloaney, Sir Hans Sloane – physician to the royal family and founder of the British Museum – who’s legacy remains through artwork dotted around the hotel. As expected from this neck of the woods, Hans’ Bar & Grill is a sleek spot – think marble tables, velvet chairs and dim lighting – with a refined menu to match. We tried the newly launched Grill Night menu, which involved classic grill dishes cooked to absolute perfection: deliciously succulent steaks, juicy scallops, smoky aubergine. The sides are a real highlight here too, particularly the mac’n’cheese – creamy yet crispy, oozing with flavour. Be sure to explore the cocktail menu; we particularly enjoyed the French 75, made with Sipsmith Gin, prosecco and sugar syrup, and there’s an impressive selection of martinis. All in all, a delight.
It may be a chain restaurant, but there’s a boutique feel to the Chelsea branch of Argentinian restaurant Gaucho. Dim lighting, cowhide fabrics, plush booths and mirrored walls create a lavish, sultry atmosphere – it’s a great
date spot – with an open kitchen taking centre stage, wafting aromas of sizzling steaks around the dining room. Prime cuts of beef are the star of the show, with knowledgeable staff on hand to advise on the differences between them (fillet is the most premium and tender, for instance, while ribeye has the most full-bodied flavour). Whichever cut floats your boat, you can guarantee it will be cooked to absolute perfection.
While Gaucho is known for being steak-world royalty, the other aspects of the menu shouldn’t be ignored: there’s a particularly good burrata starter, as well as a yellowfin tiradito dish which comes lathered in a smoked chipotle barbecue sauce. Save some space for dessert too – the lemon meringue pie is tangy and refreshing; the salted dulche de cheesecake is delightfully indulgent. Red wine is the obvious drinks choice, and Gaucho has an impressive selection – though we’d recommend kicking things off with a cocktail: the Elder 75, mixed with St Germain elderflower liqueur, lemon juice and sparkling Argentine wine, makes the perfect aperitif.
Finally, those anxious about
dining out post-lockdown can rest assured Gaucho have got it all under control. The restaurant has ample space for socially distanced tables, and safety precautions are executed elegantly – by some of the friendliest waiters we’ve encountered in a while.
Following a turbulent few months for the hospitality industry, it’s heartening – and hugely impressive – to see new ventures launching. One of these is Stanley’s, just opened on Sydney Street. It’s the first restaurant venture from 27-year-old Hugh Stanley, the nephew of the Earl of Derby – though he’s been in the hospitality scene for a while, having previously worked at the likes of Tonteria and The Sydney Arms. One of the big draws of Stanley’s is its olive-tree bedecked, flower-festooned courtyard – particularly the upholstered booths, ideal for the social distancing era. Chef Olivia Burt heads up the kitchen, who, at just 25, has worked at Claridge’s and appeared on
Masterchef: The Professionals. Full menu available from 10 August.
Image Credit: stanleyschelsea.co.uk
Housed inside a cylindrical, three-storey stone and glass pavilion bang in the middle of Chelsea’s Duke of York Square, you can’t miss Vardo – and you shouldn’t. It’s the first foray into West London for the ever-popular Caravan collection, and you can expect the same cool, easy-going take on all-day dining seen across their other branches – though with a new Chelsea edge to it. Vardo is based around a ‘no boundaries’ concept, inspired by the vardo wagons used by Romani travellers during the 19th century, which would travel the globe collecting produce and flavours along the way. The all-day menu features a strong brunch offering (think everything from smoothie bowls to French toast) alongside a mixture of irresistible platters, mezze boards, small plates, pizzas and grain bowls. Vegetarians are well catered for here – we’d particularly recommend the labneh with spiced chickpeas and flat bread; the charred aubergine with saffron buttermilk dressing; and the sweetcorn with salted pandan coconut milk. On the meat and fish side, the za’atar baked cod is delicious, as are the tandoori spiced chicken wings. The Silk Road-inspired eclectic cocktail list is also worth exploring: our top picks are the ‘Carnaval King’: Pisco, Havana rum, watermelon and cardamom oleo, lime, agave and Chartreuse, as well as the tequila-based ‘Medina Highball’. All this is to be enjoyed amid the friendly, relaxed surroundings Caravan is known for, made all the better with floor-to-ceiling windows offering a front seat view of the King’s Road action.
Spin-offs of the original Covent Garden Ivy restaurant seem to be popping up everywhere these days, but the Chelsea branch is one of the earliest – and definitely the prettiest. Head through the flower-bedecked Edwardian façade to find an elegant dining room, which opens onto a glorious garden, complete with its own orangery. The menu offers an extensive selection of brasserie-style dishes, with everything from jackfruit salad to monkfish curry up for grabs. The Ivy’s famous shepherd’s pie also features, alongside a particularly tasty Chicken Milanese. A true crowd-pleaser, this is a safe bet for families, friends and couples alike.
Old Chelsea favourite Cheyne Walk Brasserie re-opened as the stylish No Fifty Cheyne last year following a nine-month makeover – and we’re sold. Stepping inside feels like arriving at a private country house, a feeling which is reinforced by the charming staff. Despite the luxurious interiors – glass chandeliers, high ceilings, statement flowers and the like – the restaurant has an intimate, cosy feel. The big open grill in the middle of the room is a nice touch, and the aroma of the sizzling meat and fish dishes is hard to resist. Order something from there, and you won’t be disappointed. Saying that, pretty much everything on the menu is delicious. Jason Atherton protégé Iain Smith (previously Social Eating House) heads up the kitchen, which offers a menu of seasonal British dishes. The lamb rump, served with pistachio pesto and celeriac, is cooked to perfection, and don’t leave without trying the hot chocolate fondant. Afterwards, head upstairs for a nightcap at the chic cocktail bar, which looks out over the River Thames and pretty Cheyne gardens.
The second restaurant from the Pachamama group, Chelsea’s Chicama is a charming seafood restaurant named after a coastal town in Peru – not the word chic, although that does describe it well. Unlike its sister, Chicama is meat-free, focusing instead on seafood and fish served small plates style: ceviche, blackened octopus, spicy prawns and trout cooked in banana leaf all feature on the menu. But there are also plenty of delicious, flavoursome vegetarian options, like aubergine with plantain miso, grilled cauliflower and green bean salad. Eat al fresco on the lovely plant-filled outdoor terrace, or watch the chefs working their magic up close from the pink marble counter, which looks onto the open kitchen.
Housed on the corner of a large five-storey Victorian development bang in the heart of Chelsea, Sloane Place is a new venture from the company behind the long-standing adjoining Sloane Club. Though first and foremost a hotel, the restaurant at Sloane Place is very much a venue in its own right. Bernhard Mayer – whose CV features the likes of The Savoy and Four Seasons Hotels – heads up the kitchen, which serves food from breakfast through to dinner. Food-wise, expect a mixture of modern British and pan-Asian dishes, with plenty of fish and meat options and some vegetarian. Fish is a highlight here – we recommend the pan-roasted monkfish kebab – but everything is executed perfectly, from the steamed bao buns to the black truffle ravioli to the tonka bean chocolate brownie.
Born on a vineyard to two chefs,
the Gladwin brothers were destined for the world of restaurants. Following a childhood of eating heartily and driving tractors on the family’s farm in Nutbourne, Sussex, the three boys went their separate ways – Richard became a restaurant manager and Oliver a chef, while the youngest, Gregory, remained true to his roots, working as a farmer. Turns out, the manager-chef-farmer trio lends itself pretty well to the farm to fork format. In 2011, the Gladwin brothers opened The Shed in Notting Hill, followed by Chelsea’s Rabbit, a cosy, rustic spot on the King’s Road. Here you’ll find all things wild, foraged and locally grown, with sustainable livestock from the family’s Nutbourne farm, Ashurst Wood. The menu changes regularly, but dishes tend to come as small plates, perfect for a tapas-style sharing meal. You could be eating Sussex beef tartare with star anise pickled carrot, venison cigars with harissa and pickled mustard seeds or aged chorizo with labneh – whatever is on the cards for that day, you can guarantee it will be fresh, authentic and delicious.
A Chelsea stalwart,
Italian restaurant Daphne’s celebrated its 55th birthday this year. With its pink marble-topped bar and Venetian glass chandeliers, this ever-popular spot perfectly combines Italian comforts with Chelsea glamour. Hearty dishes are the star of the show, with big bowls of everything from pappardelle to risotto, but these are balanced with lighter offerings including sashimi and salads. Our advice? Leave your health-conscious side at the door and go all out on the carbs.
With its avocado-and-acai-littered menu, The Good Life Eatery is something of a millennial cliché – but it’s one of the best. The menu reads like your nutritionist’s wish list, with everything from kimchi to spirulina making an appearance. Yet wellness sceptics shouldn’t be put off: there are also jerk chicken burritos, banana muffins and ham & cheese croissants (albeit made of spelt). Lovers of a good breakfast will be eternally grateful for the skinny benedict and royale – a stroke of genius.
While the meaning of Kutir (‘a small cottage in the middle of nowhere’) doesn’t exactly apply given that the townhouse can be found smack bang in Sloane Square, set just off the Kings Road, Kutir is magically quiet and feels worlds away from the bustle of its neighbours – needless to say it’s well positioned for a hearty meal after a day of shopping. Location aside, the restaurant itself is a vision rendered in soothing tones of mint green, florals and ambient lighting – all of which make the perfect backdrop for the refined but fiery meal ahead. Save yourself the food envy and opt for one of Kutir’s delectable Expedition tasting menus which change according to season; on the Signature Menu you’ll find that classics like Lamb Tandoori and Chicken Tikka are given a modern update. Impeccably plated, the plates are full of flavours both traditional and innovative – simply put, Kutir gets refined Indian food
so right. Desserts aren’t a second thought here either, with the mango cassata flecked with cranberry, kulfi and pistachio taking the cake (pun intended). Given the quality of food, service and ambience, Kutir is also shockingly well priced. AN
Non-locals may be surprised to hear that what looks like an upmarket pub from outside in fact houses a delightful restaurant serving what has been described as the ‘finest meat on earth’. You may recognise José Gordón from the Netflix documentary Steak (R)evolution, a journey around the world in search of the best meats available. José’s restaurant in Spain, El Capricho, was voted as serving the best steak in the world thanks largely to the care he takes in raising, ageing and cooking the meats from his nearby farm. Fast forward a few years and José’s cuts are now exclusively available at World’s End Market just off the King’s Road, which proudly displays the deep red meats for diners to choose from. The exquisite quality of the food is evident even to the untrained eye, and the relaxed atmosphere makes this the perfect spot for a more low-key, but still memorable, evening.
This King’s Road landmark has been a place to be seen since opening back in 1997 – even more so with its swish new look. Formerly a garage, Bluebird underwent a major refurbishment a couple of years ago courtesy of Sagrada, the designers behind The Arts Club, which split up the large space into neat sections. Both the street-level bar and first-floor restaurant feature plush interiors – think exposed steel red beams, indoor trees and deep Chesterfield booths – while the al fresco courtyard remains an idyllic summer spot. Inside a modern European menu offers everything from salads to lobster spaghetti; outdoors it’s all about brunch, with eggs, avocado and juices galore.
Villa Mama’s brings an authentic taste of Bahraini cuisine to Chelsea. The cosy neighbourhood spot on Elystan Street distinguishes itself thanks to the expertise of Roaya Saleh, the Bahraini chef and restauranteur who has created a selection of delicious homely dishes to showcase the best of the Gulf, Persia and beyond. Guests will be pleased to discover new flavours in the little-known cuisine alongside more traditional
pièces de résistance such as Tahcheen, an Iranian saffron rice ‘cake’ with spiced chicken and berries. There’s a strong sense of family at Villa Mama’s, with core components made specially by Roaya’s relatives, a focus on sharing, and the top-secret recipe used for Um Ali – an Egyptian bread pudding that is by far the best we’ve found in London. Grab a few of the beautifully-packaged spices and conserves on your way out; brought over straight from Bahrain, they’ll make fabulously fragrant stocking fillers. CJ
Adam Handling recently opened a new restaurant on The King’s Road, which offers a luxury take on zero waste dining. The menu is built on the foundations of showcasing food waste, utilising the by-products and leftovers from the nearby Adam Handling Chelsea on Sloane Street. Creations include deboned crispy fried chicken feet with caviar, banana bread and chicken butter, lobster shell soup and reformed doughnuts made with leftover bread and overripe fruit jam. start the slideshow