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35 Old Church Street
Here’s a real rarity – a genuinely charming, almost rustic local boozer in the midst of Chelsea’s backstreets, complete with twinkling fairy lights, jumbled auction-room furniture, movie posters and music memorabilia. Pints of signature Pig's Ear Ale (brewed locally by the London Beer Factory), Orchard Pig cider and Belgian lagers go down well with a gooey Scotch egg at the bar, or you can nip upstairs to the oak-panelled dining room for “British comfort cooking executed with style and panache”. Porky pickings are arrayed on charcuterie boards, but also expect market-led dishes ranging from devilled chicken livers on toast to beer-battered codling fillet, braised beef shin with horseradish mash or grilled veal chop with black bean salsa. Roasts rule the roost on Sundays, and the Francophile wine list also does its job. “A gem”, says one fan – and we agree.
Best London gastropubs
35 Old Church Street
South Kensington Tube Station 1km
Gloucester Road Tube Station 1km
Kings Road 143m
Cineworld Chelsea 163m
Mon-Sun 12N-11pm (Sun -9.30pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 0
I've been in here many times for a drink. The bar has a reasonable atmosphere but there is always a stench of toilet duck and urine emanating from the toilets, located right next to the bar. Three years ago I ate here and was served duck which was so tough it almost broke my knife. However time had dimmed my memory and so I ended up eating here again.
Google this bar and all sorts of things come up ‘gastro-pub’ , ‘award winning’ etc. Quite where these titles came from I do not know. We were seated at a make-shift table far too close to a scalding radiator and given our menus. The waiter was very unattentive despite us being the only people in the restaurant. I ordered the steak onglet and my friend the goats cheese risotto. My steak was very tough and stringy, despite being rare, the accompanying grilled tomato was warm on the outside and chilled in the middle. The chips were standard and the token salad was uninspiring. Far worse however was my friends undercooked risotto which was like badly prepared baby food on the way out. She also ordered a pint of orange juice which came in a tiny glass. Desert was a naff brownie for my friend and a brûlée for myself. The brûlée cost just £2.50 and was by far the best part of the entire evening. It was accompanied by a ginger biscuit, seemingly from an own-brand pack of ginger-nuts.
The total cost of our very poor meal was £80, which was the food, two pints of beer and an orange juice. On examining the bill it transpired we had been overcharged by £25. The steak had been charged at £17.95 and there was a phantom charge of £20 for it being ‘rare’. When we pointed this out a person I assume was the manager but who seemed to be on day release from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest apologised, took the bill away and it was adjusted to the tune of £25. Being British I rolled my eyes.
This dreadful and overpriced meal was accompanied, as always, by the stink of urinals and bleach. It should also be pointed out that certain members of the bar staff have serious anger management issues.
Bizarrely this pub is popular with local Chelsea-ites, despite the pong, the dreadful food and poor service. I can only assume most of the patrons have tanked up on gin before leaving the house. Avoid!
Edit: I note from a previous reviewer on this page that they were told the smell of toilets was due to a faulty door hinge. That is rubbish, I've been in and out of here for years and the stink is always there. Three years on from that other review and the urinal smell is prevalent throughout the pub and restaurant as it always has been.
Food + drink: 3
The Pig's Ear exudes a special kind of charm and has a very authentic atmosphere. The menu ranges from fresh oysters to other fresh market dishes inlcuding nowadays slightly less commonly used cuts of – you guessed it – pork. There is something very understated about the place – much like the very pretty part of Chelsea, off King's Road but not quite by the river yet, were the restaurant is. It is not cheap, one can easily spend £80 on a meal for two depending on what one orders and what kind of wine goes with it, but it has a special vibe and surprisingly there are still very few casual places to eat in this part of the town.
Food + drink: 2
Wonderful atmospheric pub: quiet corner on back street location, dim pools of lighting, flickering candles on the table, traditional wooden pub tables/benches, super smiley bar staff. This is a great place for a drink. Unfortunately it's not so great a place for a meal. Our evening started off wonderfully with a Scotch egg that knocked socks off the old 70s picnic hamper version: herb-infused soft meat which actually tasted of pork, with light crispy batter and, wonder-of-wonders, the egg cooked almost to Heston perfection with a still gooey yolk. When the £18 steak came though, despite chewing a dietician-friendly 25 times, it was still unswallowable. We could have put it down to a one-off bad bit of meat, but my risotto was so bland it was a bit like eating porridge with just the occasional bit of relief provided by the quartered artichoke heart perched on top. We were in the bar so perhaps restaurant-goers would fare better (although it's still the same kitchen I presume)? We had a very drinkable bottle of Pinot Noir for £22 but still the £70 bill for 2 was, if not daylight robbery as suggested below, probably twilight pickpocketing. It's become de rigeur for gastropubs to charge these kinds of prices but it's only justified if the food matches up. I would heartily recommend the Pig's Ear for a drink (and a Scotch egg) but steer clear of a meal unless you get a recommendation from someone that they've got another signature dish they can do justice.
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