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101 Wood Lane
Chelsea stalwart Bluebird Café has spread its wings westward to White City, where it has landed as part of the redevelopment of the former Television Centre. Fans of the original will probably like the look of the new place, but newcomers to the Bluebird brand may wish that the original’s 1990s stylings had been updated for this reincarnation – although the bar is beautiful.
The all-day menu emphasises crowd-pleasing classics – nothing wrong with that, except some of what we tried was decidedly mediocre. Steak tartare to start looked and tasted unappealing, with the meat far from tender and the bread bordering on stale. Meanwhile, a broad bean and ricotta salad did not taste fresh and was under-seasoned.
Main courses were better: chicken curry was textbook stuff, well presented and well spiced, while nduja-crusted yellowfin tuna with grilled onions showed dexterity with the flavouring and originality with the ingredient combination. Puddings also pleased, as did the range of drinks on offer, but on current form, this Bluebird has yet to take flight.
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101 Wood Lane
White City Tube Station 155m
Sheperd's Bush Station 331m
Hammersmith Park 133m
Mon-Fri 8am-10pm Sat-Sun 10am-10pm (Sun -9pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 2
Long-established as a fixture on the King’s Road in Chelsea, the Bluebird has now spread its wings. A second venture bearing the same logo and concept has just opened in White City. More are apparently planned too. However, the Bluebird is not the Ivy: there is nowhere near as much general affection for the former as the latter. Whereas the Ivy has flourished in its multiple locations, showing that traditional British values (and cooking) can travel/endure, the Bluebird evokes Chelsea decadence, and found its apogee over a decade ago – at least in my opinion. Moreover, White City is quite distinctly not a glamorous location. Yes, Television Centre is being redeveloped and there probably is a ready enough crowd of local workers and new homeowners to populate the place, but the view from the Bluebird remains depressing, looking out onto the Westfield edifice and the underground line. Inside, it’s little better. Admittedly there are some nice booths, but the décor seems resolutely stuck in the 1990s. We’ve all moved on; it’s not a decade about which I’m yet nostalgic and I doubt whether there’s enough ‘retro-cool’ here for Millennials. A similar observation could be made about the music. On the mid-week night when my comrade and I visited, we were certainly not getting warmed up to go clubbing, yet the choice of tunes seemed quite inappropriate for the guests present. Food-wise, diners have a bewildering list over which to ponder. ‘All-day dining’ is a great concept in principle, but there is a fine line between this and tyranny of choice. ‘Classics’ have a section of their own, but how they might be paired with snacks, starters, sandwiches, mains and/or salads was not at all clear to either of us. Moreover, some items (such as pork belly) seemed to be available in similar formats in both the starter and main sections. Starters were instantly forgettable, but mains were – at least – better. Neither dish we opted for to begin ought to have been too challenging for the kitchen to prepare: steak tartare and a broad bean & cheese salad. The former, however, lacked the tenderness and flavouring that was expected, while the latter seemed neither to emphasise freshness nor seasoning. For the mains, chicken curry was great. It should have been, since we were helpfully informed that the head chef is Indian. The dish delivered everything I expected of it: spicy, creamy, balanced and satisfying. My comrade’s tuna also pleased. Nonetheless, there was certainly no sense of ‘wow’ or ‘OMG-we-must-return’ felt by either of us by the evening’s close. I’m rarely in the area anyway, but Bluebird will probably flourish, at least as a natural place for those who have to be.
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