Founded in 1987, Chelsea’s most recognisable restaurant landmark occupies the first floor of this magnificent art-deco building once home to Michelin HQ – images of the iconic ‘tyre man’ still loom from the stained-glass windows, mosaics and witty tableware. Elegantly patrician interiors suit the contented ‘senior’ business crowd who sit comfortably amid the walnut screens, mirrors, marquetry and framed caricatures. There are Michelin street maps of French cities on the etched glass, while the menu proves its pedigree with fine renditions of roast chicken and tarragon sauce, or côte de boeuf with béarnaise alongside modern dishes such as broad bean and pancetta risotto, rabbit with polenta and basil or Anjou pigeon with beetroot, orange and pea shoots. Matching the food is an 800-strong wine list compiled by Matthew Jukes. There’s also an informal oyster bar and café at street level.
Bibendum’s list deserves special praise for its Australian range – one of the best in the country – but its line-up of French classics is equally sound. Extra marks, too, for the decent selection of half-bottles available, as well as those by the glass.
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