Gina Baksa heads to London’s Sloane Square for supper at Bluebird Chelsea, the iconic King’s Road restaurant.
This landmark Art Deco restaurant and bar has been a King’s Road fixture since 1997 when it first opened under the auspices of Sir Terence Conran. With its outdoor terrace and upstairs gallery-style space, Bluebird Chelsea is the ideal destination for business lunches, a quiet tête-a-tête with your partner, and celebrations with friends and family.
Bluebird recently welcomed its new executive chef, Harvey Ayliffe, who wields his magic from over 30 years’ experience at such esteemed locales as Rules, J Sheekey, Le Caprice and The Ivy.
Chef Ayliffe has also introduced a more refined menu celebrating some of Bluebird’s most well-loved classic dishes, but with a refreshing update, so I was keen to return to one of my favourite Chelsea restaurants.
On our arrival at Bluebird, we were greeted warmly at reception and guided into the loft-like, expansive bar and main dining area. This cavernous space is surprisingly warm and relaxed, where mature trees fit well in the cathedral-like space, alongside warm textiles from Celia Birtwell. Designers Sagrada, who created the interiors for The Arts Club and Sartori, have made Bluebird look effortlessly stylish and cool.
We had an early evening sitting at 7.15, after visiting the superb Tutankhamun Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. The bar was cosy and welcoming, and my friend and I caught up over a chilled glass of Veuve Cliquot Brut. Laurent Perrier was sold out, but the Cliq was deliciously fruity. If you’re a cocktail fan, you’ll love the list here. My favourite was the King’s Road, one of Bluebird’s signature beverages. It’s a zingy combination of Cointreau, rose syrup and lemon juice, topped off with Moët.
Our waiter later showed us to our window table overlooking the Bluebird café and courtyard below. One of my favourite terraces on spring and summer days, there’s something about Chelsea that feels so very retro yet so very modern. The à la carte menu we perused is also available at lunchtime from Monday to Friday, as well as Monday through Sunday for dinner. What a fine medley of starters: seven succulent vegan options, salads, mac ‘n’ cheese and charred avocado that were also available as a main course.
After much deliberation, we chose the crispy duck salad mango, lotus root, chilli, ginger dressing (the portion size was as large as a main course and superb) and my friend decided on a most tender steak tartare, quail’s egg and beef dripping toast. The side of steamed spinach was divine.
We’d plumped for a medium red wine, the excellent South African Stellenrust Pinotage 2018, to accompany our meal, thanks to the excellent advice from sommelier Roy Myers. This Stellenbosch delight was the perfect dinner accompaniment thanks to its fruity body and subtle oak aroma. Matured in the barrel for 12 months clearly helps to give the wine its long finish.
The layout of the restaurant alongside subtle evening lighting was romantic and cosy, and there was sufficient space between tables for my friend and me to talk without being overheard. After a short fifteen-minute pause, I dived into a delicious Malvani monkfish and king prawn curry with lime rice and paratha. The perfect portion size, the fish was delicately cooked and beautifully presented; the colours and flavours of the sauces an added gustatory attraction.
My friend chose the Roast Iberico pork cutlet with braised cocoa bean, chorizo and black cabbage. Although usually vegetarian, it looked so delicious that I couldn’t resist a taste. I made a mental note to return as soon as possible to try the other dishes on Bluebird’s revamped menu because Chef Harvey Ayliffe’s magic touch has really transformed this Chelsea icon.
We then lingered over the tempting dessert menu and ordered a warm sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch and clotted cream, alongside a warm sugar doughnut with boozy plums, candied pecans and vanilla ice cream. Of course, we shared, and I can highly recommend both.
All puddings at Bluebird have a dessert wine recommendation, so I tried a glass of 2013 Tokaji royal blue, while my friend enjoyed a superb NV Muscat de Rivesaltes from the renowned Domaine Lerys in the heart of the Corbières. Being half-Hungarian, you’d imagine my palate would prefer the Tokaji, but I much preferred the sweeter Muscat. Other delights on the eight-pudding menu included treacle tart, a British cheeseboard, and honeycomb mousse with caramelised banana.
What a sweet and fitting finale to a sumptuous meal. To say I’m looking forward to returning to Bluebird is an understatement. The delicious and inventive British menu is superb, and the excellent wine list and coffee makes coming to Bluebird Chelsea a very memorable occasion. A visit is, therefore, highly recommended!
Bluebird Chelsea – Where and How?
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Disclaimer: With the risks of the Coronavirus widely publicised, we do not accept any responsibility for any health concerns arising from visiting this property, and urge everyone to follow the latest advice issued by the Government and the Foreign Commonwealth Office prior to making a booking and travelling to their destination: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus.