Chelsea, either one of London’s smartest addresses, or a slightly naff women’s name: you decide. But when it comes to dining out, there’s no shortage of fantastic eateries, from Sloane Square to the kink in the King’s Road down by World’s End, there’s always an option. Welcome to the Royal Borough’s finest…
From the moment it opened, Tom’s Kitchen has been an undisputed king of the Chelsea jungle. The low-key atmosphere will immediately put you at ease as you size up the cocktails (try the Chelsea Fizz, you’ll thank me) before heading to your table. The brasserie-style food is a medley of comfort food favourites, but with Tom Aikens’- I wouldn’t say twist, more like spin – there’s no crazy experimental nonsense, just a lot of very good, very tasty food. And enough of it, too. They revamped in mid-2018 and the menu and the surroundings are all the better for it.
Great for: Brunching and just hands-down decent food
Given Chelsea plays host to the world’s premier horticultural event, in the form of its famous flower show, it’s only right, not to mention far less boring, to give The Botanist a visit. The restaurant is more than half-decent, demarcated the full length of the middle by a glass window looking into the sort of nightmarish bar that you wouldn’t want to walk a pint across for fear of losing every drop in the throng. But in the restaurant, serenity reigns. The food is solid British fare, and the location is perfect for meeting friends off the tube (most of Chelsea being, annoyingly, strung out down the King’s Road and only accessible by bus, cab or foot). Try and get one of the booths, they’re far more private than the tables lining the side of the restaurant, which can seem a little cheek-to-jowl. Look, bottom line is that last time I was here the waiter broke an actual plate over my head (accidentally), and I’m still keen to recommend it.
Great for: Meeting people from the tube
A chamber of floral extravagance, The Ivy Chelsea Garden is awash with vibrant outdoors-in design, petal blossoms and intriguing interiors. Located on the desirable King’s Road, the restaurant offers a large, quintessentially British menu and all-day dining, courtesy of Executive Chef Sean Burbidge, alongside morish cocktails to boot. Perhaps the most attractive aspect is the al-fresco dining, offering a hideout from the bustle of streets, (and perfect people watching opportunities). You can quench your appetite with dishes inclusive of miso black cod fillet, a selection of steaks and sandwiches and dessert highlights such as chocolate bombe and mini choc truffles. For the best of British, it’s got to be The Ivy.
Great for: Cocktails and people watching
Stop rabbiting around and come check this farm-to-table resto. Rabbit, as it’s quite literally named, champions BYOB Monday’s, neighbourhood camaraderie and exquisite food, and you can’t go far wrong with that! On the menu you’ve got ever changing seasonal produce, Seedlip served in welly boots and a range of English Wines from their very own vineyard – snazzy! A dab hand at a Sunday roast, the food will have you patting your belly in satisfaction for days with a menu that also includes highlights of pheasant rillette, kumquat, chervil and pickled carrot and dry cured Tamworth pork shoulder. For a slice of the countryside in a bustling Chelsea, hop on down to Rabbit.
Great for: Food and intimate atmosphere
The Bluebird has been a Chelsea staple long before it became a regular feature on Made In Chelsea, and Jamie and Spencer’s Sunday hangout. Aside from being truly scrumptious on the interior front and, undeniably, the “place to be seen”, the modern European eatery oozes serious tastiness on the menu. Think fish trimmings pie, sweet potato and chestnut soup and Dingley dell pork shoulder as just some of the highlights, and a brimming brunch menu filled to the rafters with classics such as all things eggs, sumptuous salads and, of course, booze! The idyllic venue provides a boost of glam, hideaway eating and best of British vibes.
Great for: Brunching and celeb spotting
Where: 350 Kings Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 5UU, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Imperial Wharf (0.8 miles)
Swinging open its sexy front doors in 2016, Elystan Street is the street to be on when it comes to European dishes. The inventive menu is all about pure, seasonal, ingredient led, gimmick free dishes coupled with crowd-pleaser wines and cocktails. Weaving coveted dishes throughout the menu including roast calves’ sweetbreads with stuffed trotter and chargrilled octopus and squid with baked fennel, it’s clear that Elystan Street do nothing by the book, but we’re totally cool with that. The gem of an eatery is headed up by chef Philip Howard, previously of Roux Restaurants and The Square, the man of the moment held two Michelin stars for 17 years. So, if our write-up hasn’t persuaded you to visit, then let the Michelin do the talking.
Great for: Inventive menus
Sophie’s steakhouse is something of a Chelsea institution. serving meat to Chelsea’s red blooded, and red trousered, carnivores. There’s a simplicity to the place that’s attractive, Sophie’s isn’t overly showy, but feels like the sort of place that locals actually head for dinner. Needless to say the steak is well worth the trip.
Great for: Steak, duh!
Lined with dried flowers and curios, candlelit tables and an outdoor terrace, La Poule Au Pot is the beautiful Belgravia French bistro that’s waiting to be ticked off your Chelsea resto list. The cute restaurant has been voted “best for romance” in the whole of London so that’s date night sorted. Expect to find alluring interior, intricate nooks and crannies, a bulging wine list and generous portions.
Great for: Romance, French cuisine and al-fresco dining
I spent my first paycheque in London on a pair of Churches shoes and a visit to Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. I still wear the shoes and I still swear by the restaurant. This is Ramsay ground zero, where in 1998 the eponymous chef first went solo in the industry, earned a Michelin star for the restaurant (first of three) and the rest is, well, history. Whether you love his TV personality or think he’s a foul-tempered bully, the food speaks for itself and, for once, in more than four letter words.
Great for: Almost everything!
My father-in-law still thinks that Bibendum is the place he should go to get his car serviced. In fact it’s not been a garage for about 30 years, having been converted (like so much else) into an upmarket restaurant. Bought by Sir Terrance Conran in the ’80s, Bibendum (named after the Michelin man) was born. The oyster and seafood restaurant has been there since, in several guises, and lately (and most successfully, in my view) under Claude Bosi who (finally) won the site two Michelin stars, bringing things nicely full circle. Worth a visit for the famed stained glass windows, the extraordinary building and the history, let alone Bosi’s exquisite cuisine.
Great for: Seafood (not tyres)
Where: Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, London, SW3 6RD, United Kingdom
Nearest station: South Kensington (0.4 miles)
If you’re yet to pin down somewhere for date night and the pressure is mounting at an intense rate, Medlar is the French accented, green-boothed restaurant for you. Nestled on the King’s Road, the location is groovy yet classic and offers the best of French cuisine with global influences throughout. We’re talking roast chips with béarnaise and scrumptious madeleines with blood orange sorbet. It’s a cosy neighbourhood joint with a menu that replicates such comforting vibes alongside interiors which are spruced up yet offset by scuffed floorboards, distressed mirrors and a hint of je ne sais quoi! Get meddling in Medlar.
Great for: Cosiness and coveted interiors
The 5 Fields is a hidden gem. Quite literally, it’s hidden down a back street round the corner from Sloane Square. Once you’ve walked past it three times and then you’ve finally found it, you’re somewhere special. Discrete and comfortable, the small dining room churns out top notch fodder for their fixed price menus, mainly sourced from their own gardens in Sussex (hence the five fields). The wine menu is more than mentionable, with a highly perusable list.
Great for: The wine list